Animal rights group Direct Animal Action has fresh concerns over a Mainland Poultry chicken farm proposed for Orini.
They believe the company wants to introduce a new type of egg production at the site. A multi-tiered aviary system is being trialled at Mainland’s South Island site, in Waianakarua, they said in a press release.
DAA has filmed covert footage at the South Island site. Spokesperson Deirdre Sims said the footage “…was not what Kiwis’ imagine when they bought cage-free eggs.”
The group, with members throughout the Waikato and up to Northland, is concerned about the introduction of multi-tiered aviaries to New Zealand.
“The industry is attempting to introduce this new system here in response to retailers shifting away from cage and colony eggs and consumers preference for cage-free.
“Overseas, multi-tiered aviaries have been called ‘high-rises’ for chickens. They’re kept in stacked arrangements that allow a higher stocking density when compared with traditional bran and free-range systems.
“But overseas research shows that multi-tiered aviaries have significant welfare concerns due to increased instances of broken bones, high death rates from cannibalism and reduced air quality because of a large moving flock. The industries push for an increase in stocking density will only exacerbate these issues.”
Direct Animal Action are campaigning to stop Mainland Poultry building their proposed multi-tiered aviary mega-farm in Orini. “We’re also calling on our Government to stop the establishment of these systems in our country,” she said.
Mainland told Stuff the new aviary system is a vast improvement over the older single-level system. In a story last year, managing director Michael Guthrie said Mainland never intended to use cages:
“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 original documents I got talk very specifically about colony and aviary, unless they have changed their tune because of the Foodstuffs announcement.”
Newsroom sought clarification on the issue from Mainland which confirmed its original proposal did include a mix of colony cages and barn housing “whereas under our new plan, it is solely barn, hence the reduction in numbers. We are making up the balance with additional free-range farms on other sites.”
Asked if the changes were due to opposition from locals and animal welfare groups, Mainland said that wasn’t the case.
“No, we had always considered being 100 per cent barn. What convinced us to move solely to barn was the commitments made by the supermarkets to source only cage-free eggs.”
Deirdre Sims told N8N that Mainland’s first resource consent wanted 17 buildings with a mixture of colony cages and mult-tiered aviary systems.
The second and most current version is with Waikato District Council for consideration.
“…they now want nine buildings and on further inquiry with the council, I found out that Mainland now won’t have colony cages at this site, but that it will only be multi-tiered.”
“We believe they have down scaled their proposal to dampen down resistance and once they’ve established the site, it will be easier down the track to expand.”
They would like the council to make the decision publicly notified – “so everyone can have their say.”