Welfare of gamebirds reared for sporting purposes: code of practice

The code aims to help those responsible for the birds to be knowledgeable about and competent in gamebird husbandry and management techniques.


This preface is not part of the Code but is intended to explain its purpose and to indicate the broad considerations upon which it is based. Similarly, the legislation quoted in boxes is not part of the Code but is intended to highlight some of the legal requirements. You should be aware that the legislation cited in the Code and in the Annex is correct at the date of publication but may be subject to subsequent change.

The purpose of this Code is to provide practical guidance in relation to the provisions in the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 (the Act) affecting birds bred and reared under controlled conditions for the purpose of release for sport shooting, together with birds retained for breeding purposes. Failure to comply with a provision of this Code, whilst not an offence in itself, may be relied upon as tending to establish liability where a person has been accused of an offence under Part 2 of the Act. Equally, compliance with a provision of the Code may be relied upon as tending to negate liability by a person in any proceedings for an offence under Part 2 of the Act.

No single piece of legislation specifically regulates the breeding and rearing of birds for sport shooting. All gamebird breeders and rearers must comply with the relevant laws relating to their operation. The Annex highlights other relevant legislation in addition to the Act.

During the production and rearing process birds are protected from unnecessary suffering by section 19 of the Act.

To cause unnecessary suffering to a protected animal (which includes an animal under the control of man) is an offence under section 19 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006.

Section 24 of the Act requires that the birds' needs are adequately catered for (the duty to ensure welfare or the 'duty of care')

Section 24(1) of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 states that:

A person commits an offence if the person does not take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances to ensure that the needs of an animal for which the person is responsible are met to the extent required by good practice.

Section 24(3) states that:

For the purposes of subsection (1), an animal's needs include-

(a) its need for a suitable environment,

(b) its need for a suitable diet,

(c) its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns,

(d) any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals,

(e) its need to be protected from suffering, injury and disease.

Other laws, including those relating to planning, registration, medicine controls, disposal of animal by-products and animal transport also apply. It is the duty of everyone involved in the production and rearing of birds to be aware of the relevant laws and codes and to abide by them.

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