Animal Protection > Worldwide Actions > New Zealand

Hen cruelty concern


An animal liberation activist
rescues a broiler hen

August 16, 2005
PETER BEGG

ANIMAL Liberation activists have been carrying out ``undercover'' surveillance of a broiler hen farm at Little River over the past 14 months to highlight concerns of cruelty in the industry.

During the investigation the activists carried out 17 open rescues and removed more than 200 birds for veterinary care and rehabilitation.

The animal rights group has lodged an objection to a broiler hen farm near Lethbridge with Golden Plains Shire, citing evidence of cruelty in the industry.

Animal Liberation carried out a raid at the Happy Hens broiler hen shed near Meredith last month and has made complaints to the RSPCA about conditions there.

RSPCA president Dr Hugh Wirth said yesterday he was aware of the Meredith raid, and the society's inspectors were looking into the complaints.

Dr Wirth said existing broiler hen farms were being pushed out of the Mornington Peninsula by housing development, bringing a rising number of broiler farms to the Geelong region.

A public meeting to discuss the application for three broiler chicken farms near Lethbridge will be held in the township tonight.

The application for three 320,000 broiler farms at Tall Tree Road, Lethbridge, is in addition to an application for two identical farms that was knocked back by Golden Plains council last month.

The proponent for both applications, Rural Funds Management, also has an application before council for seven 320-bird broiler hen farms near Rokewood.

But Rural Funds Management managing director David Bryant said yesterday that while the Rokewood proposal was still going ahead, he was looking for another site.

Mr Bryant said he was surprised by the objections to his proposal and said the company also ran broiler farms at Griffith in New South Wales without any problems.

``We have a number of farms at Griffith and the community there is very accepting of farming and chicken farming,'' he said.

``It (the community) seems to be more tolerant of people wanting to farm.''

Mr Bryant has offered to take people from Lethbridge to Griffith to oversee the operation. He said truck movements associated with the Lethbridge development would amount to about one truck movement an hour.

Animal Liberation Victoria, which attended last month's Golden Plains meeting, said in its objection to the latest Lethbridge proposal it had evidence of cruelty in the industry.

This included weak and crippled birds slowly dying from dehydration and starvation, dead carcasses left to rot and decompose among the living birds and dead birds piled up outside sheds.

``Our rescue teams have investigated numerous broiler chicken farms around Australia and the above conditions are witnessed routinely,'' the objection said.

``Rural Farms Management have stated there will be three employees at the proposed development (three farms) meaning each employee will be responsible for 320,000 birds each day.

``Even a primary school student can do this sum in their head - it is impossible under these circumstances for these birds to receive the individual attention and care demanded by Victorian Law and the Broiler Code of Practice.''