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Source: MIL-OSI Submissions

Source: SAFE For Animals

A former farmworker who wishes to remain anonymous, has revealed to SAFE the horrific conditions that hens are living in at the colony cage farm ‘Northern Eggs’ in Whangarei.
In May 2021, a former Northern Eggs worker approached SAFE with images showing hens left to rot in cages at the Whangarei farm. In an episode of SAFE’s podcast ‘Animal Matters’ released this morning, the informant described the abhorrent conditions and routine animal cruelty they witnessed.
“It’s not unusual to see guys spinning the birds around by their necks until their heads come off completely,” said the informant.
The informant claimed that farm managers ignored multiple reports of animal suffering. SAFE alerted the Ministry for Primary Industries to investigate immediately.
This is the second time Northern Eggs has been scrutinised for animal cruelty. In December 2019, Newshub revealed footage showing dead hens in various stages of decomposition, as well as countless hens who were severely de-feathered and living among their dead cage mates. On both occasions, MPI found ‘no evidence of animal cruelty’.
Northern Eggs is part of the Independent Egg Producers Co-operative, which sells cage eggs under the brand Morning Harvest. Morning Harvest branded eggs are found at all leading supermarkets including Countdown, New World, and PAK’nSAVE.
SAFE is calling for an immediate and thorough investigation of Northern Eggs and a total ban on all colony cage facilities. SAFE Campaigns Manager Jessica Chambers said MPI is failing to hold this farm to account despite evidence that conditions for hens have not changed.
“Without a legal ban on these cruel caging systems, there is nothing in place to protect these sensitive, intelligent animals,” said Chambers.
The informant alleged that MPI notified Northern Eggs prior to inspections taking place, which would then prompt the farm to dispose of any evidence of wrongdoing.
In a response to an Official Information Act request by SAFE regarding this matter, MPI confirmed it contacted the farm prior to visiting in May.
“Hens are living in truly harrowing and disgusting conditions, and yet MPI has not held them accountable.”
“The fact remains that colony cages are just as cruel as the battery cages they replaced. The conditions are still in clear breach of the Animal Welfare Act, which is why we are calling on the Minister of Agriculture to ban colony cages in New Zealand.”
“Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said ‘No smart person would invest in colony cages,’ at a SAFE political panel on animal welfare issues during last year’s election. Yet, Aotearoa is still waiting on leadership from the Minister on this issue.”
“Colony cages are being banned around the world. The Minister needs to take urgent action on this issue if his vision to have ‘the best animal welfare standards in the world’ is to be realised.”
SAFE is New Zealand’s leading animal rights organisation.
We’re creating a future that ensures the rights of animals are respected. Our core work empowers society to make kinder choices for ourselves, animals and our planet.
– Media have permission to use clips from the podcast interview from 6am, 15 September 2021, when the podcast will be published. Use of the podcast interview must be credited to SAFE.
– Northern Eggs 2021 images.
– Northern Eggs 2019 investigation SAFE edit.
– Northern Eggs 2019 investigation raw uncut.
– Northern Eggs 2019 investigation Media Cut.
– Northern Eggs is located in Purua, near Whangarei. Northern Eggs is part of the Independent Egg Producers Co-operative, which sells cage eggs under the brand Morning Harvest. Northern eggs also sell cage eggs under the brand Sure As Eggs. Morning Harvest branded eggs are sold at all leading supermarkets including Countdown, New World, PAK’nSAVE.
– This July, SAFE launched a petition calling on the Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O’Connor to ban all caged hen farming in New Zealand.
– As of December 2020, 4,149,000 hens were being farmed for their eggs in Aotearoa. Of these, 29% were in colony cages (1,203, 000 birds); 27% were in battery cages (1,148,550 birds); and 44% were in barn systems or on free-range farms (1,825,000 birds). The number of hens living in battery and colony cages totalled 2,351,550 birds.
– Colony cages are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999. The Act states that an animal must have the opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour. Normal behaviour for hens includes but is not limited to nesting, dustbathing, moving around freely, basking in the sun and foraging. Hens living in highly intensive colony cage systems are not able to express these natural behaviours, therefore colony cages are in clear breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.
– A 2020 Colmar Brunton poll found 76% of New Zealanders polled said they were opposed to the caging of hens.
– Colony cages have been banned or are being phased out in parts of Europe, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Germany, Denmark, Slovakia, Austria, the Czech Republic and the Walloon Region of Belgium. In the United States, nine states have already banned the sale and production of cage eggs.
– Almost all of Aotearoa’s leading egg purchasers have published cage-free egg commitments. This includes all leading supermarkets, restaurant chains, hotel companies, retail outlets, leading foodservice groups and catering companies – even Parliament’s catering provider.