Not So Happy Easter Chicks
“God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages”
This is a quote from Jacques Deval, the French playwright, screenwriter and film director. Perhaps he should have added ‘tiny, barren cages’!
Humankind has achieved many wonderful things, but sadly seems to have largely lost the ability to be respectful and compassionate towards other animals and wildlife that share the planet or provide food.
Years ago, a roasted chicken was a prized and valued treat at special times of the year, like Easter, but now there are more chickens in the world than any other bird. In fact, more than 50 billion chickens are reared annually for both their meat and their eggs. The vast majority of the 50 billion chickens reared each year experience intensive farming methods, all in the so-called name of ‘cheap’ food. ‘Cheap’ at the check-out, but hugely costly for the welfare of the birds and for the environment.
Sadly, the romantic, natural image portrayed on so many Easter cards and eggs, is far from the truth for the vast majority of birds.
I only have to think of my own rescue hens, to know how naturally gregarious chickens can be. They have their own individual characters, their own likes and dislikes, living together as a flock with a distinct hierarchy. They are happiest spending their days foraging for food, scratching the ground looking for insects and seeds.
A factory farmed bird would know nothing of this natural way of life. Their natural zest for life confined in soulless, barren cages. My wife Helen and I have rescued these birds and they are a pitiful sight. I recall one such rescue; a sad hen we called Huckle, who arrived in a cat basket. All she had ever known was a darkened shed and a cage so small she couldn’t stretch her wings. When we opened her basket, for a while, nothing happened. Then, out of the basket appeared a toe… then a foot… Then, wide-eyed and apprehensive, she started to do something she’d never done before: walk. She eventually made her way along the entire length of the garden, then back again and even disappeared into our cottage, where she peered out of the window at bemused passers-by!
However, her previous life in a cage meant her immune system was shot to bits; after six months, she died. At least we were able to give her the life she’d never had.
The European Citizens Initiative
No bird, nor any sentient being, should ever be caged and deprived of all that makes life worth living. That’s why in September last year we launched our biggest ever campaign to End The Cage Age. We stood shoulder to shoulder with more than 120 other organisations from 26 countries – our biggest ever coalition – to launch a shared European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which calls for an end to all cages, not just for chickens but for all farm animals including pigs, calves, rabbits, quail, ducks and geese, throughout the European Union (EU).
Since that date our coalition has grown and we’ve reached a massive 720,000 signatures, but we need more to reach the one million target necessary to put a legal requirement on the Commission to respond.
This Easter, please spare a thought for all the farm animals that will be spending their short lives in cages and help raise awareness of our petition.
It only takes a minute to sign, to spread the word and to help us make a difference.
Thank you and Happy Easter.