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18 May 2013
A Letter to Overseas Friends
"Enriched" Cages Disastrously
Legalized in the EU:
More problems are being discovered

By Clare Druce

May 2013Dear Friends,
Violet Spalding and I co-founded Chickens' Lib back in the early 1970s; a few years later Irene Williams joined us, as a key worker. I've now written a book detailing the history of the campaign, to be launched on September 12th 2013.

In its early days, Chickens' Lib (later known as Farm Animal Welfare Network) concentrated on the battery hen. We felt we'd make more progress if we 'specialised'. It was possible to buy ex-battery hens, so enabling both the public and government officials to witness their terrible condition; in addition, we could learn from the birds' subsequent rehabilitation. Eventually we campaigned on behalf of all poultry, from quail to ostriches, and then other farmed animals too, though poultry always remained our main focus.

A major theme in my book is that factory farming is inherently illegal. Certainly this is true in the UK, where legislation appears excellent on paper - and yet the suffering goes on. I argue that this situation must be challenged, in a court of law, and it is my hope that this book (probable title Chickens' Lib - the story of a campaign) will help pave the way.

Because we first campaigned for hens trapped in cages, I've decided to come full circle. So I'm proposing that activists highlight yet again their terrible plight, this time on, or very close to, my book's publication date, September 12th, with the focus on both 'barren' and 'enriched' cages. As you know, the enriched (aka colony) cage was omitted from the 2012 EU cage ban. Worse, this form of hen torture is threatening to gain in popularity all over the world, providing a cast-iron guarantee of further decades of suffering for billions of hens.

Interestingly, even keen investors in enriched cages are already recognising their failings. In the May 2013 issue of Poultry World, colony cage egg producer John Campbell speaks of one 'major downside' being an increase of 50% in the number of eggs deemed 'seconds' due to birds defecating in their so-called nest boxes. And, no surprise, the hens also defecate on those pathetic scratch mats, and even lay eggs while perching. All of which tells a sorry story of the total inadequacy of any kind of cage to fulfil a bird's needs.

My dream is that friends of farmed animals all over the world will support the idea of drawing attention to the plight of caged hens on a date-coordinated basis, whether or not my book is promoted at the same time. Attached are the words of Sing a Song of Suffering, a song for all caged hens. Please do use the song if you can see a place for it. If the tune isn't familiar to you, just let me know and I can email you the music.

If you would like to take part, I'd love to hear your plans. My email address now is claredruce@gn.apc.org.

Thank you for reading this!

With all good wishes for your wonderful work,
Clare Druce

PS All action (strictly peaceful, naturally!) will be planned and carried out by the individual organisations taking part.

(to the tune of Sing a Song of Sixpence, a Pocket Full of Rye)
Verse 1     Sing a song of suffering
Remember all the hens,
Locked up in their cages
Prisoners for life!
Denied their every freedom
Kept from the light of day
Oh think of all the misery
Behind the eggs they lay.
Verse 2     No space for them to wander,
Their bones begin to rot.
Their mouths are full of ulcers,
Their beaks are painful too.
They cannot clean their plumage,
They have no chance to peck
So pull their cage-mates' feathers out
Just for something to do.
Verse 3     Take pity on the billions,
Feel pity for each hen:
Denied her age-old birthright
To feel the sun and rain,
To choose her own companions
And rear her little chicks
While all she knows within her cage
Is misery and pain.
Finally, repeat verse 1
Clare Druce 2013
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