Chicken farm ac­tivists try cages them­selves

South Waikato News - - Community Cookbook - MIKE MATHER

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.

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