MEDIA RELEASE 20 February 2011

The plight of New Zealand’s three million battery hens has prompted a daring lock-on demonstration on top of two silos at a battery hen farm in Tuakau, south of Auckland, at first light this morning.

Two activists, who are chained to two seven-metre high metal fixtures, say the sound of tens of thousands of battery hens in the sheds below is keeping them motivated and determined to stay overnight. One of the chained activists, Deirdre Sims, says while their occupation is unlawful they are prepared to be arrested in the interest of helping caged hens in New Zealand.

Local SAFE campaigners have joined a crowd of 20 demonstrators protesting outside the farm along the roadside. The national animal advocacy group says it wholeheartedly supports this peaceful demonstration as it coincides with its own NoCages campaign launched last week, calling for a ban of battery cages.

“We totally understand their frustration and conviction, given the scale of animal abuse happening inside factory farms like the one they are occupying. It should be the battery hen farmers being challenged by the law, not those advocating for the better treatment of battery hens,” says SAFE campaign director Eliot Pryor.

“The New Zealand public is growing ever frustrated that two decades of Government inaction and failures to adequately amend animal welfare legislation still has the majority of layer hens in cruel cages. New Zealand claims to be a world leader in animal welfare but three million hens suffering inside cages is nothing to be proud of,” says Mr Pryor.

The National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), which reports to the Minister of Agriculture, issued the draft welfare code for layer hens on 8 February for public consultation.

“NAWAC is foolishly recommending simply replacing existing battery hen cages with another cruel system called colony cages. This is a totally ridiculous position for NAWAC to take, which is why SAFE is calling on the public to make submissions calling for a total ban on all cage systems. Over 3000 e-card submissions have been sent to the Government since the code review process began,” says Mr Pryor.

For more information contact SAFE campaign director, Eliot Pryor, on 021 1899 226.

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