Wegmans Cruelty: An Unofficial Blog

This is an unofficial blog and informational archive related to the WEGMANSCRUELTY film and resulting campaign.

Please see that page for more information.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Raid on Wegmans' hen house

Fresh Talk
By Richard Turcsik and Seth Mendelson
GroceryHeadquarters.com

A flock of controversy is being kicked up at the Wegmans Egg Farm in Wolcott, N.Y., which has been targeted by animal rights activists who favor cage-free eggs. In October, three activists belonging to a group called Compassionate Consumers were indicted on several counts for breaking into the 750,000-bird facility-the largest in New York state-in July 2004 with the hopes of capturing video of the hens' living conditions.

In July of this year, activists released a documentary film called Wegmans Cruelty that reports on alleged cruelty at the farm, which was started in 1967 and supplies eggs to the retailer's stores. The film has been making its way through the upstate independent film circuit, and in late October "premiered" at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where the screening was sponsored by the RIT Vegetarian Education Group. According to Compassionate Consumers, a screening at The Little Theatres in downtown Rochester, Wegmans' hometown, drew more than 100 people.

Wegmans has counterattacked by placing information about the egg farm on its Web site. "We're proud that others tell us we have one of the best-run farms in the entire country," the Web site states. "Can we do even better? Of course. We're now protecting our birds against break-ins (something that had never before happened in the history of the farm) and we're increasing the scrutiny of every cage every day and are making other improvements."

Birds are also protected against foxes, raccoons and wild birds, diseases caused by walking in manure or soil, Avian flu from wild birds, climate conditions and severe weather. Wegmans notes that cage-free eggs are available in all of its stores, but because they cost more to produce, have a retail price two to three times higher.

"You may ask why our 750,000 chickens are in cages anyway," the Web site states. "Up until the 1960s most eggs were produced in cage-free systems. Free-range chickens, exposed to the outdoors, have a normal mortality rate anywhere from 20% to 40% a year. We believe that our farm, which has a mortality rate of less than 8%, is doing the right thing."

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