West Wickham animal rights group saves 7,000 hens
PUBLISHED: 09:45 07 March 2011
Thousands of hens which were due to be slaughtered are now settling into homes across the UK following the work of an animal rights group determined to raise awareness about the egg industry.
Passive Pressure Animal Welfare Group, based in West Wickham and Croydon, spent six days ferrying 7,000 hens from a free-range egg farm in Sussex to sanctuaries as far afield as Wales, the Isle of Wight and Cornwall as well as Bromley and Swanley.
Unfortunately, 5,000 could not be saved before the deadline towards the end of February.
Group founder Jan Yarker, of West Wickham, explained that all egg farms slaughter their flock after 72 weeks when productivity drops.
She said: “This is the fourth time we have done this. It is a huge operation and this is the most we have been able to save.
“The truth is that hens can continue to lay eggs until they are seven, but farms send them to slaughter as soon as productivity drops.
“The final day we were rushing to get things finished. It was really quite emotional.”
As well as being ‘homed’ at sanctuaries the animals are given to individuals who want to help.
“One member, Ann Summers, took four of the poorly ones,” Mrs Yarker said. “She hasn’t owned hens before but the poorly ones just seemed to pick her.”
Work will begin again in a year to prepare vans and drivers to collect the birds but the group’s next plans are to raise awareness of the welfare of male chicks over Easter Sunday.
She added: “In the intensive egg farming industry the fate of newly-born chicks is decided by their gender.
“While the females either go into cruel battery cages, where they stay for 72 weeks, unable to even spread their wings, or are reared on free-range farms, up to 40 million male chicks a year will either be painfully gassed or minced alive for fertiliser.”
The group will be in Bromley town centre over Easter weekend handing out information about the industry.