Oob | 19.11.2004 16:58 | Animal Liberation
Liberated battery hen
In what is believed to be the first case of its kind in the UK the jury at Hove Crown Court took just two hours to return a unanimous verdict of Not Guilty.
During the two-day trial the farmer told how he readily takes birds he finds in the waste pits below the cages, from where Mr Currie took the birds he was arrested leaving with, and returns them to the cages. While giving evidence he also acknowledged he puts down rat poison in the pits to control the infestation, which suggests that rat poison is probably entering the human food chain as the birds gobble it greedily as a scarce food source. The jury accepted the defendant acted with honest intent and that the average
person on the street would agree with him.
At this factory farm and others like it birds regularly fall from the cages into the waste below and are effectively buried alive. Some die of rat poisoning, some sink into the deep sodden waste and die there unable to move. The Animal Liberation Front and other animal care workers covertly take and film others.
The RSPCA has proven for many years unwilling to address this blatant disregard for the welfare of these birds, similarly Trading Standards animal welfare officers to whom as many documented complaints have been made by various animal welfare organisations about the unnecessary suffering inflicted on birds in these egg farms have failed to act. One poultry expert, a vet, refused to condemn when approached by Meridian TV news, suggesting instead that their suffering in the dark in high piles of waste, where they appear to survive (where rat poison isnflt deployed) on faeces and their dead companions is a trade off for cheap eggs.
Clearly this is not acceptable in an advanced civilised society that prides itself on its attention to animal welfare issues. The options for these fallen hens are outlined, their only hope appears to be once thought illegal, even bracketed as terrorism by some but today given the seal of approval by a jury of twelve members of the public who agreed it is not a criminal offence to walk into these places and take the fallen stock to a better life. It seems almost merciless and future generations will say it would be wrong not to. This case has once again exposed serious flaws in the laws protecting animals in factory farms in this country.