Reported by Auckland Animal Action:

"21 Hens Liberated from a Battery Egg Farm in South Auckland

Activists took video footage and photographs of the farm, detailing the horrendous conditions that 2.8 million hens are forced to endure in New Zealand every year.

Documents taken from a shed on the farm, show that this is a Golden Harvest Poultry farm, owned by Gerade Van Den Bogart, who has previous convictions for animal cruelty.

The documents, covering the period of 2003 to 2004, show that approximately six hens died every day in the shed, which holds around one thousand birds. AAA spokesperson Rochelle Rees says that this is not surprising given the cramped and unnatural conditions.

After viewing the footage, Ms Rees says, “As far as battery farming goes, this farm was nothing out of the ordinary. There were 3-4 hens per cage, with no room for them to move around or stretch their wings.

“They were in plastic battery cages where their feet hung through the gaps. Consequently their claws had grown excessively long to enable them to grip the cage bottom. It is obvious that this caused them extreme discomfort.

“We are pleased that 21 hens have been removed from the farm and placed in homes where they will live their lives free from suffering. Unlike the thousands left behind, these hens will be able to do normal things like walk and stretch their wings.

“They will get to see the sun and perform natural behaviours such as pecking, scratching in the ground, making nests, foraging for food and even having dust baths.”

A ministerial advisory report and draft code of welfare for layer hens, shows that the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC), recommends the minimum living space allowable for each hen be increased from 450 to 550 square centimeters by 2014.

Ms Rees says, “Although an increase of more than 20% may sound good, in practice it means nothing. Hens will still be forced to live in cages, each individual with less space than an A4 sheet of paper.”

Government appointed NAWAC asks that any decision on the future of battery farming be delayed until 2009. They claim that this is in order to allow for “further research”.

Ms Rees says she cannot understand how anyone could suggest more research is needed into this issue. “The cruel reality of battery farming can clearly be seen in the evidence gathered last night.

“We hope the Minister of Agriculture; the Hon. Jim Sutton will not sign the code as it stands. If he does, he will be condemning millions more hens to a life of suffering.”