Tafadzwa Chibukwa, Chronicle Reporter
VARIOUS stakeholders have come together to lobby for the abolishment of battery-caged chicken farming and the mistreatment of livestock.
A number of people in urban areas are into chicken rearing, although due to space limitations in urban areas chickens are usually cramped in small spaces as people seek to maximize profits.
Large-scale chicken producers are also said to be practicing the same as they overload their holding spaces which denies the birds the natural environment that they must grow in.
Animal welfare activists all over the world are campaigning for abolishing of cruelty against animals and some are campaigning against the banning consumption of meat and its products due to ill-treatment.
Battery cages are a housing system used for various animal production methods, but primarily for egg-laying hens. The name arises from the arrangement of rows and columns of identical cages connected, in a unit, as in an artillery battery.
NGOs which include Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), Nurture Imvelo Trust, Open wing Alliance and Sibanye Animal Welfare and Conservancy Trust (SAWC) are behind the campaign to promote better welfare for chickens.
Yesterday a media workshop to educate the media fraternity as a major player in disseminating information was held at a city hotel.
The media workshop ran under the theme: Towards a cage-free continent.
Presenting during the workshop, the Program Manager of Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), an NGO based in Kenya, Mr Josiah Ojwang labeled caged chicken farming as an oppressive practice.
He said the chickens which are reared in confined cages are oppressed to perform their natural duties which also makes them susceptible to some health risks.
Battery cages are very cruel to chickens as they compromise their welfare and health conditions. People running businesses overlook the conditions that they expose these chickens to focusing on the profits that they generate from the sales and the eggs laid,” he said.
Mr Ojwanga called upon the media to play a pivotal role in educating farmers and members of the public about the dangers of consuming chicken and their products raised from battery cages.
Director of Nurture Imvelo Trust, Ms Sanele Ndlovu, emphasised the implications that battery caging has on chickens.
“The practice of battery caging exposes chickens to many unimaginable conditions in which a human would not be able to endure if they were to be exposed to. The chickens will be cramped in a small cage, in large numbers and there’s no free movement or any room for them to be free to express themselves. Not only does this affect the chickens emotionally but it proposes various diseases to the chickens,” she said.
Ms Ndlovu said the diseases that break out may also affect people who consume them at the end of the day.
Open-wing Alliance Communications Officer, Mr Sebastian Mwanza called on the media to play a pivotal role in disseminating information against the practice of battery caging.
He said people lack knowledge on the consequences that come with battery-caging chickens hence the media needs to help bridge the gap.
“The media has a powerful role to play in advancing this campaign against battery caging. People are not aware of the dangers that come with this practice, at most times they are just exposed to consuming but they do not know how the chickens are reared. In advancing this agenda, there might be a need for shops to introduce grades for caged and uncaged chickens and their products,” said Mr Mwanza.
Addressing the same workshop, Matabeleland North Provincial Veterinary Officer, Mrs Felistas Ndlovu said the fight against animal cruelty is a social responsibility that lies in the hands of everyone.
“Not only are chickens the only abused livestock in society but there are also livestock that is abused but overlooked because people are not aware of the conditions that they expose their livestock to. Even if one might not be practicing caged farming, there are certain conditions that they might be exposing their livestock to. There is a need for livestock rearers to get training and knowledge about how to keep their livestock in order to avoid such issues,”