A petition to Waikato District Council demanding they decline a proposed mega egg farm has reached over 10,000 signatures.
New Zealand’s biggest egg producer, Mainland Poultry, want to build a chicken egg laying farm at 64 Old Road, Orini, Waikato.
The proposed farm would house 400,000 egg laying hens in a new indoor production system called “multi-tiered aviaries”. If approved, the farm would be the first of its kind in New Zealand on such a scale.
Animal advocacy organisation Direct Animal Action, who are running the petition, are concerned about the welfare implications of multi-tiered aviaries.
“Multi-tiered aviaries are simply an adjustment to colony cages. Each building will contain 50,000 hens that will be kept in a stacked arrangement that reaches almost to the ceiling. The hens will have no access to the outdoors,” says spokesperson for Direct Animal Action Deirdre Sims.
“Overseas, these systems have been described as ‘high rises’ for chickens.”
“Mainland Poultry want to establish multi-tiered aviaries in New Zealand because they can sell these eggs as “cage-free”.”
“All our major supermarkets have now made commitments to phase out the sale of battery and colony cage eggs. Eggs from multi-tiered aviaries, like what Mainland are proposing at Orini, can be sold in supermarkets as a cheaper ‘cage-free’ alternative to free-range.”
“We’re concerned about the establishment of these systems in New Zealand because they haven’t been thoroughly considered by our animal welfare regulators. Overseas, multi-tiered aviaries have been shown to produce significant animal welfare issues including high instances of cannibalism.”
“If Waikato District Council won’t decline Mainland’s application outright, we’re calling on them to make it publicly notified so that all New Zealanders can have their say about what the future of the egg industry looks like in our country,” says Ms Sims.
Mainland Poultry CEO Michael Guthrie says after extensive research the multi-tiered aviary system was chosen for the Orini site because it is a world-class system and provides excellent housing for layer hens.
“We believe it balances the health and welfare of the hens with our ability to produce affordable eggs that are accessible to all New Zealanders.
“…This is not just our view as there is considerable science and evidence to back that up. The idea purported by animal activists that this system is crowded and not in the best interests of the hens is just untrue and ill informed.”
The system, which is widely used in the UK and Europe, allows high egg production per square metre of ground area without compromising animal welfare standards relative to single tier designs.
“As more farmers upgrade and move to cage free production it is likely to become the norm.”
The Orini site when built would be a world-class commercial layer farm.
“We are proud of our farms, our standard of welfare and our customer service. The decision to use a barn system at Orini is about maintaining those high standards and operating a leading-edge farm with healthy, well-cared for birds.”
- N8N hopes to talk with Mainland about their plans for the new farm at Orini soon – watch this space.