Canberra: raid on battery hen farm

March 12: Activists forced entry into the Parkwood Egg Farm, owned by Pace Farm, in Macgregor, between 11pm Monday, March 12 and 6am Tuesday, March 13.

They slashed conveyor belts, destroyed grading and packaging machinery, and damaged office equipment and forklifts. Battery acid and power tools were allegedly used to destroy equipment. Production at the battery egg farm was forced to a standstill.

A claim of responsibility was published on Bite Back: “Parkwood Egg Farm, located in Macgregor ACT and owned by Pace, is the ACT’s only factory farm, housing between 100000 and 200000 layer hens in small cages. Last night, Parkwood was infiltrated. Various items of equipment along the automated grading and packing production line were damaged or destroyed in an attempt to cause economic harm to those who profit from torture and murder. No equipment relating to the welfare of the hens was touched; they will continue to receive food and water.

While there are many such facilities across Australia, this Canberra farm was chosen for two primary reasons:
1. Its significance as the only factory farm in the seat of Australia’s parliament.
2. Its history as the target of multiple campaigns by a number of different organisations over a span of twenty years, and its consequent infamy across the nation; these campaigns, despite garnering intense public outrage towards the facility, have failed to shut it down.

A large quantity of free-range packaging was found at the facility, with brands including Pace, Coles, and Woolworths Select. It is therefore believed, though not confirmed, that Parkwood’s battery cage eggs are also packaged and distributed as free-range. The hens at Parkwood are currently being emptied from their cages one shed at a time and sent to slaughter, as they have reached 18 months of age and are no longer producing at peak capacity. It is recommended that Pace uses this opportunity to close down the facility and leave our nation’s capital. Already three sheds have been emptied, with only two remaining.

This action was intended to highlight not simply the atrocities of the ‘cage egg’ but the ethical impossibility of justifying the unnecessary torture and murder of any sentient being. Free-range eggs, for example, still require the males to be macerated (ground up alive) at birth, just like organic milk still requires the cows to be repeatedly impregnated and their calves slaughtered. We cannot rely on or be content with welfare regulations that ultimately seek to assure us of humane slavery and slaughter, because slavery and slaughter can never be humane. We did not improve the transport or living conditions of human slaves traded across the Atlantic, we abolished the trade, and again abolition must be our moral baseline.

It is time to question the validity of the Australian identity. What values do we consider virtues? The icon of the Aussie battler – the family-oriented farmer slaving in tough times for the good of the country – is outdated and does not reflect the heavily industrialised nature of modern livestock farming. Nor does it reflect the severe environmental damage caused by such practices.

We need to ask ourselves, do we take pride in the shadowy men who hide behind piles of blood money – the Frank Paces, the Bob Inghams, the John and Simon Camilleris – or do we take pride in those who fight for the oppressed; those who don’t live by the legal law of the day but instead by a universal moral law, acting out of compassion and for a justice that discriminates not against race, gender, age or species; the voices for all who cannot speak for themselves yet scream unheard behind the closed doors of our nation’s factory farms? A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies, and to say of a system predicated upon hate and violence: This is not just.

Consumers must be made aware of the truth behind the meat, dairy and egg industries. Our politicians have the power to make such information widely available, but choose not to because of the industries’ economic value, even if it means more Australians dying of preventable diseases and disorders, more unnecessary soil degradation, water scarcity, and greenhouse gas emissions, and the slaughter of millions more animals every year.

The industries and their employees, on the other hand, must be made aware that they are in danger of being exposed; that their participation in these violent atrocities will no longer be tolerated, and that the secrecy of their actions can no longer be guaranteed.

Members of the public, and of the parliament, must no longer be afraid to stand up and make their voices heard; never through violence but through the affirmation and embodiment of social and ethical responsibility.

The Blackbird”

There are no witnesses to the raid and police have not taken anyone into custody. Footage showing conditions inside the facility was posted on YouTube. Police plan to trace the YouTube user who uploaded the video as part of the investigation.

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