Animal Rights Collective stages Halifax demonstration

May 1, 2006
Daily News, Halifax
Lyndsey Keilty

"Get me the cluck out of here" was the message presented by five protesters in chicken costumes housed in a wire cage yesterday. Members of the Animal Rights Collective of Halifax (ARCH) staged a demonstration in front of the Spring Garden branch of the Halifax Regional Library in opposition to factory-farmed eggs in Nova Scotia.

"Locally what we're hoping is to educate people that factory farming is happening in Nova Scotia," said ARCH spokeswoman Jennifer Surrette.

She says that most people don't believe that inhumane farming methods, like the use of battery cages, happen in Nova Scotia.

"In fact, 100 per cent of the commercial egg farms in Nova Scotia are factory farmed and they're housed in the types of conditions that people can see here."

For one hour, the protesters were locked into a scale-model cage to demonstrate how little living space hens have.

"They have half a piece of paper worth of space for their entire lives," she said. "They live in these conditions all day, every day, for two years until they're slaughtered."

In the short term, Surrette said the federal government should follow the European Union and ban factory farming of eggs.

Rosemary Hanson stopped in front of the demonstration to show support for the cause.

"I've eaten free range eggs for years", the Halifax resident said. "I think it's great that there is regional representation to give the facts to people who have become disconnected from where their food comes from."

ARCH member Krista Simon posed as an villainous egg producer to get the attention of passerby.

"If we could genetically modify you to have no beak or wings or feet, you'd be able to do nothing but make eggs and we could raise our profits from $10 million to billions," she shouted at the cage of hens-posers.

"Visitors and even our office workers aren't allowed in our facilities," she contined, this time directing her message to bystanders.

But egg producers such as Peter Clarke say they treat their hens well and, in turn, the hens produce well.

"We keep our hens inside so they are not exposed to predators or external threats like avian influenza", he says of his Kings County operation, Southview Farms Ltd. "Our birds are kept six to a cage and all have easy and equal access to feed and water."

Surrette says egg farming standards are low, in her opinion.

"I strongly believe that if you or I, or anyone who is walking past this demo visited any of these egg-producing factory farms, they would leave never eating another egg again," she said.