Chicken farm activists try cages themselves
The plight of chickens that live most of their lives in cramped colony cages was the focus of a roadside protest in South Waikato on Saturday – and some participants even put themselves in the birds’ places.
Outside Heyden Farms in Lichfield demonstrators squeezed into a cage as a way of drawing attention to the cruelty of the cages.
About 20 demonstrators, led by members of Save Animals From Exploitation (Safe), held vigil outside the poultry complex from 10.30am on Saturday
Heyden Farms featured in recently released footage covertly recorded by animal rights group Farmwatch at the complex. It included footage of several dead hens, hens trapped under perches, and hens severely de-feathered.
Safe Waikato co-ordinator Sandra Kyle said the demonstration was a means of shocking legislators into banning colony cages.
In colony cages, hens have roughly the space of an A4 sheet of paper to move around on. They suffer foot injuries from standing on a wire floors and many become de-feathered because their cage-mates peck at them and they rub against the sides of the cages, she said.
Calls to Heyden Farms for comment were not being answered on Saturday.
The farm is owned by the Van der Heyden family and has former Fonterra chairman Sir Henry Van der Heyden as a shareholder.
About 260,000 chickens are in colony cages in the Lichfield complex. The farm is also home to an additional 40,000 freerange hens.
Farmwatch lodged a complaint with the Ministry for Primary Industries earlier this month, soon after releasing the video.
An MPI spokesman last week said the ministry had made an unannounced inspection of the farm after the complaint and spent two days investigating.
It was clear ‘‘the footage that has been released to the public is not acceptable practice’’, but the ministry’s inspectors did not see all of the issues that were filmed. However, it found some standards were not being met in relation to: overcrowding in some cages, the removal of dead birds and the state of the live birds.
A SAFE-LED demonstration took place outside Hayden Farms where Cadged Chickens are farmed.