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Easter Of Hope For Hens

27 March 2002

The organisers of a campaign to ban battery cages for hens say they've been surprised and delighted by the extent of opposition to the cages.

Earlier this month, the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals launched its campaign to have battery egg production outlawed as soon as possible and not later than 2010. "We produced and circulated 300,000 postcard-sized submission forms, calling on government to end what is undoubtedly a cruel and barbarous farming practice. We thought this number of forms would prove sufficient. But, within days, we had to order additional stocks to keep up with public demand," says Royal New Zealand SPCA National Campaign Coordinator, Hans Kriek.

"SPCA branches throughout New Zealand are registering high levels of support for the campaign, whilst more than 11,000 cards have been signed in just over a week by customers of "The Body Shop", which is supporting the campaign," he adds.

By mobilising opposition to battery cages, the SPCA hopes to influence a committee appointed by the Minister of Agriculture, that is due to review the Welfare Code for Layer Hens later this year. Under the 1999 Animal Welfare Act, government is required to take public opinion into account when setting or revising animal welfare codes.

"We seem to have touched a raw nerve with the public. Large numbers of New Zealanders certainly see this as a unique opportunity for making their disgust at battery farming known and hopefully having their views translated into law," says Hans Kriek.

"There's still a long way to go but this is nevertheless an Easter of hope for the more than two million battery hens who lay the overwhelming majority of New Zealand's eggs," he says..

Royal New Zealand SPCA Chief Executive Officer, Peter Blomkamp describes battery cages as preventing hens from performing most of their normal activities, including walking, stretching their wings, pecking, scratching, nesting, foraging or dust-bathing.

He says that the tiny areas in which battery hens are confined are a cause of severe feather loss, leg weaknesses and injuries.

"Producers of free range and barn eggs tend to proclaim their status proudly on their egg cartons. Battery egg producers would be doing the same thing if they were similarly proud of the way their eggs are produced.

"The results of our campaign to date show that New Zealanders want change. We're delighted with their response and will do everything we can to ensure that change comes soon," he says.

ends

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