Summer 1999 Poultry Press Battery Hens
(APRIL 2, 1999)
Compassion by ACTION in Canberra, Australia

By Patty Mark*
Canberra, Australia--This action by 40 people received enormous TV, radio and print coverage for 4 days. It made the front page of the Canberra Times and ran nationally on TV News. Thirty-eight hens were rescued from Parkwood Eggs--the largest battery egg factory in the ACT [the Australian Capital Territory, comparable to Washington, DC] by our undercover rescue team.
Photo by Gloria Gamboz
Distressed and sick hens, this photo and below,
from Monatalto Poultry Farms in Australia.

On Friday, April 2, I entered the first battery shed with 39 other people, all with rescue bags holding first-aid equipment. The lights automatically came on in the sheds at 4 a.m. and we began to look for sick and injured hens. Diana Simpson videotaped our inspection.*

I immediately saw that a majority of the hens had gross inflammation (erythema) and swelling on various parts of their bodies. The most notable were on the abdominal region and around the vent area. The erythema was also prevalent on the crop area of many birds. This is all documented in the video footage.

What gave me particular distress was that the birds suffering this gross inflammation had no choice but to sit against a wire floor. This is comparable to a person with severe bed sores being made to lie on a wire bed frame instead of a mattress.

I also witnessed horrific debeaking on the majority of hens, several combined with a top crossed-over beak. How hard it is for these deformed, mutilated birds to eat properly.

I removed several very sick birds from the cages and tagged them with an ID Number. These birds were removed by team members from the shed at 4:30 a.m. and taken to a veterinarian for treatment. The birds with severe erythema and swelling were quite heavy, possibly from excess fluid. This made it hard to get them out of the cages. The cage door was very difficult to take on and off. The opening was not large enough to remove the hens without severely distressing them.

At 5:30 a.m. I rang the police for assistance and urged them to bring a veterinarian. By the time the police arrived two and a half hours later, many other sick birds needing immediate medical attention had been found by other team members working in the sheds. Several of these hens died later in the morning after our appeals for veterinary help failed.

Photo by Debra Tranter

One very ill hen had symptoms that suggested Marek's disease [a fatal viral cancer of the nervous system in factory-farmed chickens]. She was unable to hold her head up. It just twisted and curled limp.

The police refused to call a veterinarian. At noon, I and 17 others were arrested and driven to the lock-up cells. I felt terrible being led out of the shed by police, walking along the whole length of the shed past the crying hens in their hideous predicament. . . .

*Patty Mark is the Editor of Animal Liberation Action Magazine, the quarterly publication of the national organization, Animal Liberation, in Australia. Patty and her team have been investigating and documenting the treatment of battery-caged hens and rescuing these hens since the early 1990s. She has been jailed numerous times. Patty and her team put the plight of battery hens before the Australian public through the national news coverage they've received. Their publicity recently led the conservative RSPCA to urge the Australian public to boycott battery hens' eggs.

*Diana Simpson films the conditions inside the hen houses. Patty Mark told UPC: "Diana is the wonderful, amazing woman on our rescue team who takes ALL THE VIDEO footage. She is an exceptionally quiet, shy person. She refuses to speak in public, but comes into her own once in a shed with her video camera. She is also one of the bravest people I've ever met. She was hit by a farmer the last time we were at Montalto Poultry [documenting conditions and rescuing hens]."

Diana will be with Patty at our Conference in June!
We Hope to See You, too!

Summer 1999 Poultry Press Battery Hens