(photo credit: Courtesy, Barak Bloch )
Some 50 people demonstrated outside the offices of Israel's Egg and Poultry Board in Tel Aviv on Sunday, to protest the intended slaughter of hens no longer at the optimum level of egg production, even though the owners had found the animals new adoptive homes.
When 1,000 hens were slated to be killed last week on Moshav Ometz near Netanya, the daughter-in-law of one of the moshav's egg farmers publicized the imminent execution on Facebook, and within 24 hours, all of the animals had been found adoptive homes.
But, says Ben-Yosef, the requests for sanctuary for the birds ceased abruptly when the Egg and Poultry Board threatened the farmer with steep fines if the birds were saved.
According to Ben Yosef, when protesters found out on Thursday that the scheduled execution of the chickens was to take place that day, they went to Moshav Ometz to protest. The egg farmer told them that the scheduled killing would be delayed if they dispersed, but a small group has maintained a continuous presence there ever since, Ben Yosef says.
The meat of the egg-laying hens does not comply with commercial standards, so after electrocution it is thrown away. This waste is one of the issues that angers Ben-Yosef. “One can argue about eating meat and vegetarianism, but this is a case of killing without any purpose at all,” he tells The Jerusalem Post
. "The Egg and Poultry Board has crossed a red line as they insist on this unnecessary killing when the owner of the animals had an alternative solution.”
Protest leader Mike Green explains that after two years of laying eggs, hens become less productive. At this point the Egg and Poultry Board pays the farmers for their animals, and then kills them. The case at Moshav Ometz proves that the Board is forcing farmers to have their hens electrocuted, Green says.
Also present at the demonstration on Sunday was Hila Keren, the spokesperson for the organization Anonymous for Animal Rights, who described the living conditions of hens in Israel. “Hens on industrialized farms are packed into coops where they cannot even spread their wings or stand up,“ she says, adding that these types of coops have been banned in more than 30 countries.
In a statement issued Sunday in response to the protests, the Egg and Poultry Board said that, "Unproductive egg-laying hens are killed in a manner that causes the minimum amount of suffering, [and] is acceptable to animal rights groups."
The Board claims that the issue of the adoption of the hens falls under the jurisdiction of the Veterinary Services and Animal Health department of the Agriculture Ministry, whose mandate is to protect the public from the spread of bird diseases such as avian flu.