Sunday, 20 January 2008

Chicken out campaign against battery chickens

Eco TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is campaigning about the wretched conditions of battery chickens. It's a topic dear to my heart. On Hugh's Chicken Out campaign website he says:
'I feel so strongly about our chickens that I'm launching a national campaign, which I'm calling Chicken Out! Part of it will be a new TV series on Channel 4, which will help you to understand the conditions in which most table birds are reared, and to put pressure on the industry to raise its standards. Chicken Out! is being led by River Cottage locals, especially in and around Axminster, who are boycotting intensively-reared chickens and choosing free range instead. I need you to do the same.'

You can go to the Chicken Out website and sign up to the campaign. But most of all you can stop buying battery farmed chicken and eggs.

I have been trying to buy proper free range organic local chicken for some years, but its not so easy. Local farm shops and farmers markets sell local but not necessarily organic, supermarkets sell organic but not local. It's not cheap, but I don't expect it to be.

It’s a great campaign, raising awareness of the truly horrible conditions these chickens are kept in. Living in close proximity with hundreds of other birds with little room and no natural light their life is nasty brutish and short. In cages they live on top of each other, truly unsanitary.

The government has agreed to push ahead with the EU ban on battery cages for egg-laying birds, due to come into effect in 2012. But why wait till then, another party may be in by then and change its mind. Also unfortunately it does not affect conditions for intensively farmed meat or 'broiler' birds - the focus of the Chicken Out! campaign. This ban affects only the intensive farming of egg-laying hens (often referred to as 'battery' hens).

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