A FOURTEEN-YEAR-OLD girl from Sheffield has taken on Britain’s biggest supermarkets and won.
Lucy Gavaghan became concerned about the animals' welfare when she began keeping her own chickens.
When she learned about the conditions that most caged hens lived in she was appalled.
In February she set up a Change.org petition to pressure supermarket giant Tesco to stop stocking eggs from caged hens.
In the petition, she explained her concerns for the welfare of hens in commercial cages.
Hens require more than the bare minimum commercial cages provide. They need space to roam, experience the outside world and show natural behaviour in a natural environment. The fact that hens can lay eggs which provide significant income for supermarkets, doesn’t justify forcing them into a life restricted to a cage.
The petition reached 280,267 signatures and in July Tesco agreed to meet with the young animal rights campaigner before promising to phase out eggs from caged hens.
On July 13, Tesco fagreed to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2025.
Matt Simister, commercial director for fresh food at the chain said:
“Our decision on caged hens is one of a number of Tesco initiatives designed to ensure sustainable sourcing, and improve animal welfare.”
“We carried out an extensive and collaborative review with our suppliers and key industry experts to help us work through how best we can move to 100 per cent cage-free eggs."
Lucy then turned her attention to Asda and Morrisons, with a new petition calling on the two stores to follow suit, that petition drew in another 185,573 signatures.
On July 25 this year Morrison’s agreed to phase out the sale of eggs from caged hens by 2025, four days later Asda confirmed that they would do the same. Budget retailer Lidl agreed to do the same.
Talking about her victory Lucy said, "I never imagined that I would have so much support in my campaigns, I would like to thank every single wonderful person that has signed and shared my petitions, along with my family who have been incredibly supportive throughout."
She is now committed to ensuring the supermarkets live up to their promises within the agreed time frame.
It’s an unlikely success story for those who have been campaigning to free hens from commercial cages, but not everyone is pleased about unexpected nature of the new commitments.
Poultry board chairman of the National Farmers Union Duncan Priestner expressed concerns:
“This change will impact greatly across all egg production systems so it is absolutely imperative that we and our members have clarity over retailers’ future plans and have our concerns addressed as soon as possible.”
“Although 2025 is nine years away, time is of the essence to allow our producers to make the necessary changes, with minimal disruption to their businesses and to our customers.”