Free to Range



By Judy Morley-Hall.
24th December 2009

What a mixed bag of a year it has been for animal welfare.   Thanks to high profile Mike King, one-time promoter of the Pork Board, denouncing the cruel practice which exists in N.Z. of keeping pigs in crates where they are unable to move around or suckle their young, the public are now demanding an end to this inhumane way of farming and are avoiding purchasing pork from such farms.   If you wish to purchase free-range pork look for Freedom Farms or Harmony Free-Range Pork labels.

But then  Electra, in association with Price-Waterhouse-Coopers and Suzanne Snively, ( who, I think, should have bothered to investigate more fully, the nature of the award recipient’s business) announced that the Electra Business of the Year Award was to go to Turk’s Poultry Farm in Foxton, a factory-farm with a reputation for cruel and inhumane treatment of chickens.   Turks has been the focus of numerous public demonstrations seeking closure of this factory.   There are petitions available for those who wish to lodge their objection to this award.   Please email:

And now three companies, Williamson Holdings Ltd., Southdown Holdings Ltd. and Five Rivers Ltd. are seeking permission to build l6 new factory-style dairy farms in South Canterbury’s Mackenzie Country.   Nearly l8,000 cows will spend 24 hours a day for eight months of the year confined in cubicles.

Dairy cows, to whom this country owes so much, already suffer a life of deprivation.   Artificially inseminated to suit the dairy industry and increase production of milk, they frequently suffer mastitis, lameness and even an inability to walk freely due to their heavy milk bags.  Their calves are torn from their mothers after two days and up to a million of them are  killed every year in N.Z. to be turned into veal.   The grief and wailing of these cows and the frantic pursuit of their calves as they are removed is one of the saddest sounds of the countryside.  And now farmers are seeking to confine thousands of these creatures to stalls and thereby deny them the small pleasure of grazing on grass.

To seek to have these applications declined please email: or write to Consents Operations Section, Environment Canterbury, P.O. Box 345, Christchurch 8140.

Copies of your emails should be sent to:,, and

Misleading information?  It has been noted that the above mentioned Turks  Poultry farm are apparently covering their factory-farmed egg containers with labels depicting hens running free on grass in sunshine. Another factory farmer has complained about what he says is a dishonest and unethical marketing ploy but apparently the Commerce Commission can only proceed with a prosecution when a number of people have made a complaint against this type of advertising. We have been asked to encourage the public to lodge a complaint with the Commerce Commission, P.O. Box2351, Wellington, or email: or telephone: 0800 943 600 or 924 3600.

All is not despair; we can make a difference by choosing cruelty-free produce and by taking the time to write to those who are making decisions which affect the lives of animals.

Nothing will change the way we farm animals until we, the public, resist buying factory-farmed food.

Pressure from consumers in other countries has brought about an end to factory farming so surely we, with our desire to be seen as a “Clean, Green” nation, have much to lose if we capitulate to those who want to make vast sums of money on the backs of powerless animals.

Kapiti Animal Welfare