Austrian Battery Hen Campaign
July 31, 2003 Austria

Following is the campaign background and rescue report by Dr Martin Balluch, President of the VGT

The VGT Battery Farming Campaign: From 15th to 30th July, three teams of activists visited pre-chosen battery farms across the country each night and filmed the evidence. 47 farms were visited. These farms are the largest in Austria and are keeping together 43% of all battery chickens.

The EC made regulations in 1999, according to which from 1st Jan 2003 there are at most four battery chickens allowed in each cage of typical Austrian cage size. We found that 79% of the battery farms we had visited, had stocked illegally with at least 5 or even 6 hens per cage. A massive 91% of farms had at least partly overstocked. 71% of farms had very bad hygienic conditions and 47% had dead chickens in the cages. 100% of the farms had ill and dying birds in the cages.

We put the evidence together in the form of photos and video and sent it off today to the authorities. We want all those farms in court.

We went public with those findings on Monday 4th August (see our website (in German)). A weekly newspaper journalist had gone in a battery farm with us and published a 3-page super article. Also, two radio stations, two TV stations, two further weekly newspapers and two daily newspapers reported on it, positively. The wave has gone so high that I was phoned today by representatives of the governor of the largest Austrian province with the most battery farms, and was asked to come to talk about the situation this Friday.

We made it clear: we want battery farms banned and an "animal solicitor", who can take up court cases for animals. We sent a video tape with "highlights" to all TV stations. Tomorrow we will send out another press release to push the case further.

Most recent rescue: We went with a TV crew to a battery farm and rescued five chickens out of illegally cramped conditions. The chickens were severely sick. We saw four living chickens in the manure pits, we rescued them as well. So, altogether we rescued nine chickens. We have reported the farm to the authorities and provided them with video-proof of breaches of the law.

We drove with those chickens in the night together with the TV crew to a vet, who said that the chickens would have died had we not saved them. Then we put them in a sanctuary. The TV showed the whole thing on Monday 4th August at 6:45 pm. They had so many reactions that the following day they showed a follow up at 6:45 pm again. They also interviewed the owner who said he loves chickens and he is an animal friend. They also interviewed me again and the spokesperson of the governor, who said that nothing will change.

We hope that a general ban on battery farming in Austria will be at least debated. Five of nine Austrian provinces have already banned battery farming.

Also: I was wearing a "go vegan" T-shirt during the interview and we always make it clear we want battery farming banned and not larger cages. Also, our new leaflet asks people to stop eating eggs altogether. We will start daily demos in a while showing our evidence to the public on the streets and hope to push the issue further. In autumn, a new nation-wide animal protection law will be filed, and this is why we push so hard for a battery ban right now.

Click on any photo for larger version

these hens are typical of battery hens in austria

a hurt hen is carefully removed from her cage

dr martin balluch of VGT with one of the saved hens

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