“The hens imprisoned in this shed are screaming for their lives, but nobody hears them. Today, we hope the public listens.” Felicity Andersen on April 5, 2012 when chained to cages crammed with laying hens.

ALV president Patty Mark with fellow activists Felicity Andersen, Lisa Manning and Jo Osborne inside the farm.

In the early hours of 5 April 2012, four women from Animal Liberation Victoria chained themselves inside a hen factory in Victoria. All four women (Patty Mark, Felicity Andersen, Jo Osborne and Lisa Manning) were already on bail not to go within 100m of this particular farm after staging a rooftop protest there alongside 11 other activists in May 2011.

Despite previous investigations, complaints, and the rooftop protest, no authority has taken any notice of ALV’s pleas to help the hens inside this hellhole. The lockdown was an attempt to bring more awareness for these birds and to physically make the police enter the sheds (the police have the power to prosecute the farm for cruelty and have previously refused to go into the sheds). The police did act quickly, but to block off the road (preventing media and our support crew coming near the property) declaring it a crime scene and doing their best to remove the women from the shed quickly.

Conditions inside the shed were typical of what has been found previously. Sick birds, dead bodies, extreme featherloss, overcrowding, debeaking, birds fighting and extremely stressed. The place was filthy with rats and mice running around, droppings, dust and cobwebs everywhere and the air was so foul that the four women had to wear professional gas masks in the shed to avoid putting themselves at risk of sickness. The police made several attempts to talk the women into leaving, but at the same time absolutely refused to meet their appeals to bring in an independent vet and do their own cruelty investigation. The relevant sections of both the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and the Code of Practice/Poultry were handed to the Police.

Finally, after four and a half hours locked down in the shed, 8-10 police surrounded the women where they were locked down in the middle of the aisle, demanded they leave and then forcibly removed them by literally dragging and manhandling them along the filthy floor of the shed.

After being retained at the police station for interview for several hours the women were released on bail with a surety and further charged with trespass and criminal damage (for a padlock worth $25 which they did not break).

Prior to the lockdown a second rescue team had helped film and document the conditions of the birds in the shed, photos can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150796440882195.472596.263328217194&type=3

14 hens were rescued from the shed and several of them taken to the vet so their pitiful condition could be documented. You can see details and photos from the vet visit here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150805900677195.474016.263328217194&type=3

Despite the attempt by the police to prevent media coming near the egg factory, the lockdown was reported in The Age, The Herald Sun and The Leader newspaper. And importantly, footage of the appalling conditions for the hens was shown on the Channel 10 news that evening (links below for these)

The defendants are due to appear in Frankston Magistrates Court today at 9.30am.

Cattle Farmer’s are now calling for protection from activists:

“The animal rights lobby does represent a threat to farming. They are out there dragging the reputation of farmers through the mud and feeding a hatred of farming and destroying many people’s understanding of farms and farmers.”

ALV would like to thank the four women, the open rescue team and all the support crew who worked so hard to bring the plight of egg laying hens to public attention.

ALV website link to the archived story about Somerville Roof Protest: http://www.alv.org.au/storyarchive/0844rooftop-protest/rooftop-prot…

Links of photographs and two videos taken at the Somerville Egg Farm in 2011:

February 23, 2011 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=a.10150146740527195.3369…

March 14, 2011 http://www.facebook.com/media/set/fbx/?set=a.10150162683967195.3429…

Link to free range shed footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw1FX69rNoY

Link to battery cage shed footage: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f2hDNrpt3A

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