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Lucy Gavaghan’s Campaign to End Caged Hen Farming

My name’s Lucy Gavaghan, I am in Y10 at Tapton, and since the beginning of 2016 I have been campaigning to improve the way chickens are commercially kept in the United Kingdom.

Animals have always been something I am interested in, but after meeting a flock of hens on a farm, I realised what amazing creatures they really are! Although many people are unaware, hens are beautiful, complex, and highly intelligent animals. They form bonds with humans in the same way that any other household pet would. 

Knowing this, I began to research the way hens are treated on a commercial level, and the shocking truth is that a huge proportion of the hens that lay eggs for the industry live their lives in horrendously cramped cages or barns. They never see natural light, and are often close to death after their time in the farms. 

I decided that I wanted to do something about it, and I began to write letters to supermarkets and politicians, attempting to end the cruel practice. Unfortunately, I found that letter writing wasn't having any impact whatsoever. Enormous corporations take little notice of the opinions of one person, this is when I launched my first petition, which was directed to Tesco.

Within hours of starting the petition on change.org, the petition had hundreds of signatures, and it became clear that I was in no way the only person that wanted to see this change made. The petition continued to grow at a staggering rate, and within 5 months, it had reached over  280,000 signatures! I went to a meeting at the Tesco head offices with their Head of Agriculture to discuss the issue. I believe that the opportunity to meet with them, face to face, made the petition even harder for them to ignore, and a few weeks later, I received a phone call (from school)to hear  that Tesco would stop selling caged hens eggs by 2025! 

After hearing from Tesco, I launched my second petition to ASDA and Morrisons. Within one week it had reached 180,000 signatures and both of the supermarkets made the same commitment that Tesco previously had. 

Throughout my campaigns, I've had so many new experiences and I've met so many incredible people. I've been on Radio four, four times, as well as Radio Sheffield, Hallam FM, and Radio Kent. At the start of Summer, I went on BBC breakfast and Newsround! I visited a free range farm in Waresley and have been to meeting with various important Animal welfare charities. More recently, I won the Young Animal Enthusiast of the year award at the Animal Hero Awards in London, where I met some truly inspirational people who have dedicated their lives to improving the welfare of animals. Also, I got the opportunity to do my first public speaking at the 10th anniversary dinner of Animal Equality, a global charity, dedicated to ending factory farming, where I was honoured to be given their Animal Champion of the Year Award.

Now, I have started my biggest campaign to date. I am petitioning the government to end caged hen farming in the UK. ( change.org/nomorecages ). This issue is so important to me, and so many other people. I'm fully aware that this isn't a change that can happen overnight. It needs to be thought out to insure that welfare is increased on the widest scale possible. In addition to my governmental campaign, I have also begun and urgent petition to South Staffordshire council, asking them to refuse planning permission for a giant chicken broiler farm, which will house nearly 500,000 chickens at any one time, and will cause unimaginable suffering. ( https://www.change.org/p/say-no-to-new-chicken-factory-farms?recruiter=346830728&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=sms )

Animals living in factory farms like this, are treated as nothing more than commodities to the industry. They are viewed as inanimate machines, without individuality or feeling. This perspective couldn't be further from the truth. It's time that we treat all the animals living in this country, with respect, compassion, and do all in our power to ensure their quality of life is at the highest possible level.