In response to the campaign on the welfare of pheasants and partridges bred for shooting, David said:
"I appreciate your concerns on this issue. Both I and the Government are committed to the highest standards of animal welfare.
Under existing laws and regulations all animals, including farmed poultry, must be looked after in ways that meet their welfare needs. Guidance is maintained on the steps stock-keepers need to take to avoid risking prosecution.
This includes an explicit reference to the Farm Animal Welfare Council's 'five freedoms', which state that animals must be kept free from hunger and thirst, from discomfort, from pain, injury or disease, from fear or distress and to express normal behaviour. Regulations on housing vary depending on how the birds are being raised, but in all cases it must allow essential biological needs to be fulfilled.
Furthermore, under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 gamebirds must not be caused any unnecessary suffering. Under this Act, a Code of Practice for the Welfare of Gamebirds Reared for Sporting Purposes was drawn up based on research carried out by the Farm Animal Welfare Council, advised by a working group that included animal welfare organisations such as the RSPCA. It can be found at www.gov.uk by searching on the term 'Gamebirds'.
These rules are enforced by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), which carries out routine welfare inspections and investigates complaints; prosecutions can be initiated where necessary."
More information about the campaign can be found here.