SIR – Today marks the beginning of the four-month pheasant shooting season.

Around 40 million of these birds are intensively reared every year, using industrial hatcheries, cages and sheds to provide feathered targets for ‘guns’ who commonly pay £1,000 a day.

Because of the enfeeblement that results from being reared in captivity, it is estimated that around half of the birds die before they can be shot. They perish from exposure, starvation and disease.

These factors make pheasant rearing the very opposite of efficient food production. In fact, figures from the shooting industry show that it costs more than 13 times as much to rear pheasants than the shot birds will fetch retail.

Large numbers of farmed pheasants attract – and probably boost the populations of – stoats, weasels and foxes. Gamekeepers label them as ‘vermin’ and kill them. Species ranging from badgers to cats and dogs – and even protected birds of prey – are also caught and killed.

The production of birds for ‘sport shooting’ has been banned in Holland. For powerful animal welfare and environmental reasons, we should follow its lead.

Andrew Tyler, Animal Aid, Tonbridge, Kent