More than 4500 people have signed an on-line petition which aims to stop a poultry farm planned for Orini.
Mainland Poultry, said to be New Zealand’s biggest egg producer, want to build the chicken farm at 64 Old Rd, Orini and keep 800,000 hens.
The petition, launched four weeks ago by Direct Animal Action, is to be presented to Waikato District Council.
The petition said many of the hens will ‘be kept in cruel colony cages’, and the rest in an aviary system.
“Aviary systems don’t exist in New Zealand on the large scale that Mainland Poultry is proposing and they haven’t been considered thoroughly in our animal welfare regulations. Overseas, aviary systems have been shown to be problematic for animal welfare.
“There’s been massive public outcry in New Zealand about factory farming and farming animals in cages for cheap food production. These practices must be banned in New Zealand.”
Council is currently considering the application.
Green Party MP Mojo Mathers has spoken out against the proposal while congratulating Foodstuffs after their announcement to phase out cage-eggs from New World, Pak’n’Save and Four Square supermarkets.
“Foodstuffs’ leadership… sends a clear message to egg producers not to waste money investing in caged egg systems, such as that proposed by Mainland Poultry in the Waikato,” she said.
One person who signed the petition said it would be a concentration camp for hens. Another that it would not benefit the local community, or anyone but shareholders.
“I hope the Waikato District Council will decline consent for this brazen attempt to capitilise on misery and filth.”
However, Mainland Poultry managing director Michael Guthrie told the Waikato Times the animals would not be kept in colony cages.
The sheds would use an aviary system that allowed the birds to roam around the floor and perch if needed, and some of the farm could be free-range.
“This is where animal welfare people stir up a lot of trouble. It was never a colony farm – it was never going to be – so they are totally mistaken.”
The consent’s management plan said the sheds would be built by “international poultry shed design specialists” and each shed will house “state-of-the-art” equipment sourced from Europe.
The proposal acknowledges the chicken sheds are at closest 15m to the property boundary, when the district plan requires intensive farming to be set back 300m.
The obstruction and odour should be less than minor, it said, as the closest house is 400m away and the closest boundary is conservation land.
“Traffic movements” too and from the proposed farm are expected to be 90 per day, according to the plan, and the current rural zoning allows for 200.
The company wants to develop the site, at this stage a dairy farm, into an egg-laying facility to meet growing demand for chicken eggs.