Agright’s proposal for large-scale chicken farms an impending animal welfare and biosecurity disaster – SAFE

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SAFE (Save Animals from Exploitation) is urgently calling on the Government to intercept two intensive chicken farms proposed for Waikato, which would see nearly a half a million birds enduring confinement in overcrowded conditions, with avian influenza looming large.
Australasian company Agright has unveiled plans for construction this summer, with aims for the first farm to commence production by July next year, and the second slated for 2026-2027. Each farm would have six ‘free-range’ sheds containing 240,000 chickens, totalling 480,000 birds once fully operational.
SAFE CEO Debra Ashton says chickens bred for their meat experience extraordinary suffering in intensive barn environments, including painful lameness, joint collapse, respiratory distress, and heart problems.
“’Free-range’ chicken farming is a misnomer; these birds would still be confined in dirty, overcrowded conditions, at risk of suffering from severe and debilitating health problems, with most unable to access the outdoors in their short lives.”
“It has been six years since the code of welfare for chickens was last reviewed, and chickens continue to be farmed in a manner which violates their rights under the Animal Welfare Act 1999.”
Furthermore, this expansion comes at a critical time, amidst global concerns over avian influenza outbreaks, which thrive in dense, stressful farming environments.
“Intensive and factory farming conditions create ideal environments for these diseases to thrive, with cramped, filthy, and stressed animals facilitating rapid transmission,” says Ashton.
“As a nation, we must acknowledge the connection between our flawed relationship with animals-who are recognised as sentient beings under our laws-and the need to end, not expand, factory farming practices.”
“Government has a responsibility to protect animals from unnecessary suffering and take all steps necessary to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.”
SAFE is calling on the Government to intervene and halt the expansion of chicken farming operations, particularly while the code of welfare is overdue for review, and avian influenza is imminent.

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