Egg campaigner impressed by RSPCA Assured farm

Egg campaigner impressed by RSPCA Assured farm

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A 14-year-old schoolgirl who helped convince three major supermarkets to stop selling eggs from caged hens has enjoyed her first tour of a commercial farm.

Lucy Gavaghan gathered 460,000 signatures of support for online petitions calling for the supermarket giants Tesco, Morrisons and Asda, to stop selling eggs from caged hens and her tireless campaigning paid off when all three announced they would go cage-free by 2025.

The schoolgirl from Sheffield was invited to celebrate her success with a tour of Wood Farm in Waresley, Bedfordshire, which is a member of RSPCA Assured.

Victory for farm animals

Rio Mellor, an RSPCA Assured assessor, said: “Lucy’s campaign will see millions of hens, who would have been kept in cages, being given plenty of space to move around freely and express their natural behaviours instead. It’s a  

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phenomenal victory for animal welfare.

 “It was wonderful to meet Lucy and tell her more about the strict RSPCA welfare standards farmers have to meet in order to use the RSPCA Assured logo.

“It was helpful for her to see a commercial farm in action. She asked some intelligent questions about welfare and I’m sure this experience and her new knowledge will help her future campaigns.”

Charles Mear, the fourth generation of his family to farm the land, his wife Jo, and their three children showed Lucy around their 250-acre farm where they have just under 28,000 free-range hens producing about 25,000 eggs a day.

Lucy and her mum Jenny were shown the tree-covered ranges, inside the sheds, the egg packing station and also the mill where the family mixes their own feed for the hens.

 

Charles said: “Lucy has really made the supermarkets sit up and take notice, she’s managed to open doors to make a real impact and proved she is a force to be reckoned with.

“The welfare of the hens is our top priority. We think happy hens produce quality eggs, so it’s great that the industry has got someone like Lucy pushing for change.

“We wish her every success with her campaign.”

Lucy became interested in hens when she met some at a livery yard where her family keep their miniature Shetland pony Willow.

She now has a flock of her own - Pumpkin, Hazel, Sunshine, Sylvia, Fern and Mildred - some of which are former battery cage hens.

She launched her first online petition lobbying Tesco from her mobile phone in the living room and it quickly went viral gaining more than 280,000 signatures in less than six

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months. Now she is campaigning for the UK to go cage-free.

Lucy said: “I felt it was really important for me to see a commercial farm and I was really impressed. The hens looked really happy and healthy, just how all hens should be.

“I know there will be some resistance to what I am trying to achieve - an end of hens being kept in cages - so it was great to speak to a commercial farmer like Charles and know he wishes me well with my campaign. I hope to meet more people in the industry and get their backing too.

 

“It was good to find out more about RSPCA Assured and see the welfare standards in action. I will be telling all my supporters to look out for the logo when they are shopping.”

Notes to editors:

RSPCA Assured eggs are produced by cage-free hens reared on farms inspected to the RSPCA welfare standards.

Hens are either kept in barns with plenty of space, perches, litter for dustbathing and foraging, and nest boxes or in free range systems where hens also have access to an outside range.

RSPCA Assured assessors and the RSPCA’s farm livestock officers check that the RSPCA welfare standards are being met.

Charles Mear started egg production in 1996 and in 2009 he and his wife Jo started packing and selling their eggs directly to the customer

under their own label. They now supply the local free range eggs for branches of Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda as well as independent retailers.

To find out more about Wood Farm visit their website or you can contact them via email

Lucy is currently lobbying the Government for a commitment to ban cages for hens in the UK. Her petition has got more than 80,000 supporters in the two weeks since it launched. 

To arrange an interview with Lucy or with the RSPCA farm animal welfare experts please contact the RSPCA Assured press office.

If you are a journalist and would like more information, please contact:

Rebecca Lenik, media relations manager

01403 821752
rebecca.lenik@freedomfood.co.uk

Carole Stewart

07770 881578
carole@hammondpr.co.uk

RSPCA press office

0300 123 0244

Date: 07 Sep 2016