Auckland-based animal rights group Direct Animal Action have begun a David vs Goliath battle against New Zealand’s biggest egg producer, Mainland Poultry.
In September, an Official Information Act request to Waikato District Council revealed that Mainland Poultry have plans to build a mega factory farm that would confine 800,000 egg laying hens to colony cages and a new type of multi-tiered system called ‘aviary’.
Mainland want to build their mega factory farm in a small Waikato valley called Orini and many of the neighbours are already mobilising to stop them. The locals are worried about stinky odour from the farm, increased heavy traffic, potential pollution of their local river and many simply just don’t want a ginormous animal prison in their back yard.
Our group wants to stop Mainland because we want to see the end of factory farming in New Zealand and we believe that the industrial farming of animals for cheap food production is one of the biggest moral crimes of our time.
We started with a petition calling on Waikato District Council to decline Mainland’s application and in the space of a week, we’d reached over 5000 signatures.
Next we outed Mainland’s plans in the media hot on the heels of an announcement from Foodstuffs supermarkets that they were joining Countdown in a pledge to phase out cage eggs.
Mainland told the media that their proposed mega factory farm wouldn’t have colony cages despite their official documents saying otherwise. Something suspect was going on so we decided that we needed to take a closer look at how Mainland keep their chickens.
We knew they’d never give us permission to take a look around one of their sites and that, even if they did, they’d clean up first. So we went along one evening after business hours, walked through an unlocked door and started filming. What we found shocked us.
Mice were running through cages containing hens, a number of dead hens were floating in a cesspit inside the building and we saw hens in very poor condition with feather loss and raw red skin.
The conditions were very unhygienic with piles of broken eggs on the floor, cobwebs everywhere and the smell was incredibly strong.
What we found made us feel, more urgently than ever, that we cannot let Mainland build another hen hell hole in our country. We’re going to stop them. We’re also calling on our new Government to ban colony cages and to stop the introduction of multi-tiered aviary systems in New Zealand.
To get involved with Direct Animal Action, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deirdre Sims has been campaigning in Auckland for 15 years to get hens out of cages and to end factory farming. People power, grassroots activism and direct action are some of her biggest passions.