Monday, September 28, 2009
Letter in Canberra Times - Ban Battery Farms
I would like to lend my support for the condemnation of battery hens. On our farm in England we had over 5000 laying hens in large open pens.
Of their own accord they would go into the large sheds overnight for protection from foxes etc. In these large pens we planted our apple orchard where the hens kept insect pests such as codling moth in control without the use of chemical sprays, and the manure fed the trees.
The hens were able to supplement their food by picking up grit naturally for shell production.
When the dreaded fowl pest disease spread throughout Britain in the late '50s it was the battery hens that succumbed to it. Hundreds of thousands of hens were burnt and properties were quarantined for up to three months.
We used to supply eggs to the Ovaltine factory nearby who had, I think in the order of 10,000 laying hens all in battery cages. The birds were all destroyed when the disease spread through their sheds. They were allowed to restock after the quarantine period and within weeks their restocked birds caught the disease again.
The factory then relied heavily on farmers with healthy non-battery hens kept in the open air and all our hens proved resistant to the disease.
Battery hens are in a situation that they simply cannot resist disease.
That was a real learning experience for me of which I have never forgotten. Hens kept in large barns is the lesser of two evils but will never replace hens kept in large open air pens and every effort must be made to ban the use of battery hens.
Cedric Bryant, Watson