Footage of conditions inside hen farm released by Open Cages
Animal welfare campaigners have expressed “fury” at the Government’s failure to deliver on repeated promises to consult the public on banning the battery farming of hens. The group, Open Cages, has released footage secretly filmed at a farm in Yorkshire showing caged, egg-laying hens in “horrendous” conditions and “breaching animal welfare law”. The footage, they added, was filmed by activists visiting K Fresh’s Carr Farm on three occasions between November last year and this February.
WARNING: This article contains images some may find distressing.
According to Open Cages, some 300,000 hens are being kept in “tiny cages” at Carr Farm, stacked six tiers high across seven poultry sheds, with two-storey “double-decker” layouts.
Hidden camera footage, they said, has revealed that the majority of the birds in one of the sheds went at least a day without being checked on by farm workers — with such being in breach of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007.
In the footage, many birds can be seen diseased or injured. One had an untreated cloacal prolapse, another appears to be struggling to walk.
Open Cages said: “Some were found with totally bald and swollen heads, likely due to respiratory disease. A number of the birds are suffering extreme feather loss as a result of stress induced pecking or rubbing against the cages.
“Dead bodies were found rotting in and around the cages with thick piles of waste building up on top. A filthy wheelbarrow was full of bodies in advanced stages of decomposition suggesting they had sat in the open for some time.”
Nearly a third of all British eggs are still laid by hens kept in cages for the duration of their lives, Open Cages notes. For comparison, the European Union is presently moving forward with it plans to phase out the use of cages for farmed hens,
Cages are already banned in Austria, Luxembourg and Switzerland, and are soon to be prohibited in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and Slovakia.
The Government, they added, has “promised to consult the public on banning cages for hens three times in the past four years” — the most recent being around a year ago. Such a consultation, however, has yet to materialise.
Open Cages CEO and co-founder Connor Jackson said: “I’m furious at the Government for breaking yet another promise for animals. Our footage proves that there are no happy hens in cages.
“These poor birds are forced to endure horrendous, unnatural conditions — and that’s why all major supermarkets are phasing them out.
“But 10 million hens remain trapped in cruel cages as a result of the Government’s inaction.” More than 101,000 people have signed Open Cages’ petition on Change.org calling on the Government to end the practice of caging hens.
The campaign is also supported by various celebrities, including actress Dame Joanna Lumley, actor Peter Egan, chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, singer-songwriter Shaun Ryder, singer Sinitta and Made in Chelsea’s Lucy Watson.
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Dame Joanna said: “It stuns me that millions of chickens are still forced to live in cages. The cruelty in the video is plain to see.
“How many times must the British public voice its horror at the way laying hens are treated before the Government acts?
“I dare the Prime Minister to watch this footage and claim his Government takes animal welfare seriously.”
Open Cages is also calling on the public to demand that Rishi Sunak bring an end to the battery farming of hens by taking part in a new campaign led by The Humane League.
Express.co.uk has reached out to K Fresh and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs for comment.
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