ALAN HARDIE

23/09/2008

A surprise raid by Animal Liberation members on a Buchanan chicken farm ended when police rescue officers snapped the chains binding protesters to cages – and they walked free without charges.

A group of 36 Animal Liberation members, wearing overalls and with shoes covered against possible infection from the chickens, suddenly surged past two stunned employees at the Hen Holme premises in George Booth Drive early yesterday.

Before the employees could stop them, the group pulled chains and padlocks from their clothing, then chained themselves to chicken cages in a shed.

From about 6.30 to 10am the protesters sat on the ground in their chains until the last of them was snipped free.

"Of course we didn’t want to pay fines, but we were prepared to do so if that’s what it took to make our point," protester Wendy White said.

"The police took our names and addresses, then let us go."

"We were protesting about the erection of a huge new shed out there and we were appalled by the massive construction and the conditions of the chickens," Ms White told the Mercury.

"We had been hopeful the company would have been phasing those places out," she said.

"But conditions for the chickens are intolerable out there."

Ms White said the group walked into the Hen Holme premises in special clothing designed to cover them against infection from chickens.

"The door to a shed was not locked and we all surged forward," she said.

"Two employees were trying to keep the door shut, but they could not prevail.

"We did not manhandle anyone, but we had chains with us and we locked ourselves in front of some cages."

She said police rescue officers snipped them all free with bolt cutters, the actual operation taking about 20 minutes.

"There would have been about 120,000 birds in that one shed, which was half full," Ms White said.

"It was quite horrifying to see."

A spokesman for the Hen Holme premises at Pace Farm referred the Mercury to the company’s head office in Sydney.

But two calls to the company’s corporate office yesterday brought no response.