New footage exposes Tory failure to prevent ‘horrendous’ battery farming

Semi-bald chickens in a battery farming operation, hens laying eggs
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This article contains details on animal cruelty which some readers may find distressing

Campaign group Open Cages has released footage from a secret filming operation in a ‘double decker’ battery farming egg factory. The farm houses 300,000 hens in what Open Cages has described as “horrendous” conditions.

Campaigners have expressed their fury with the government following release of the footage. This anger stems from the fact that successive Tory regimes have promised to launch a consultation which would likely see caged-hen farming banned, and yet no such consultation has taken place.

Vile conditions

In a press release, Open Cages said Carr Farm in Yorkshire is confining 300,000 hens in “tiny cages stacked 6 tiers high”. It added:

  • … The birds are kept in 7 highly intensive poultry sheds with two-storey ‘double decker’ systems.
  • Numerous birds had been left to suffer from severe injuries. One bird can be seen struggling with a broken leg. Another with an untreated prolapse.
  • A number of the birds are suffering extreme feather loss as a result of stress induced pecking or rubbing against the cages. Some were found with totally bald and swollen heads likely due to respiratory disease.
  • 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.
  • Hidden camera footage reveals that the majority of the birds in one shed went at least 24 hours without being checked on by workers, which is in breach of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007.
  • Activists from Open Cages visited the site on 3 occasions from Nov 2022-Feb 2023. The charity is filing a legal complaint against the farm.

The group added that:

10 million birds in total remain in these conditions.

One year ago, the UK government promised to consult the public on banning cages for hens but have yet to do so. The Tories have promised to consult the public on banning cages for hens 3 times in the past 4 years.

Fury at battery farming

Battery farming for eggs is still a huge problem in the UK. In 2012, EU law changed which meant farmers had to increase the size of cages. However, this was only by the size of a postcard. So now, hens have that plus an A4 size area. As RSPCA Assured noted, after around 72 weeks these hens don’t produce eggs and are killed. Moreover, 35% of egg-laying chickens are battery farmed – and 35% of the eggs we buy come from these conditions.

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CEO & co-founder of Open Cages Connor Jackson has 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.

Release of the footage comes as the EU is progressing its plans to phase out battery farming animals. It also follows more than 100,000 British people demanding an end to caged chicken farming via an online petition. Open Cages is urging the public to email Rishi Sunak on a new campaign website.

Video from the investigation can be accessed here.

Featured image via Open Cages

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