CHILDREN'S TV presenter and pantomime actress Sarah-Jane Honeywell is taking part in a new animal welfare campaign highlighting how hens are still being kept in cages.
Over the next two weeks Sarah-Jane is appearing in six cities across the UK in The Wizard of Oz, as Glinda.
Even though the traditional battery cage was banned in January - many hens remain confined in new 'enriched cages' - which only offer the size of a postcard per bird in extra space.
Sarah-Jane joins forces with animal group Viva! this Easter to say “a-cage-is-still-a-cage - calling on people to boycott eggs and go vegan - as part of the group's Cracked campaign.
The CBeebies' Mighty-Mites & Tikkabilla star squeezed herself into a tiny cage - to highlight how 50 per cent of British hens spend their whole lives trapped in these so-called enriched cages.
Sarah-Jane says: “There is no Happy Easter for millions of British hens. This year, battery cages were scrapped for just another cage. It sounds like a sick joke, but it's true. A few inches more space is hardly a substitute for sunshine and freedom. However, whatever eggs you buy hens are killed young and males die at just a few days old because they are the wrong sex to lay. That's why I'm supporting Viva!'s Cracked campaign to highlight the suffering of hens. Make their Easter - go vegan!
The Wizard of Oz, also featuring Tracey Beaker star, Dani Harmer and Bobby Davro - is in Halfiax tonight (April 4), Bournemouth April 5-6, Derby April 7-8, York April 10-11, Darilngton April 12-13 and Carlisle April 14-15.
For more information about Viva!'s Cracked campaign, visit www.viva.org.uk/cracked.
For more information about this media release (and for a hi-res version of Sarah-Jane's photo), contact Viva! press officer Helen Rossiter by calling 0117 944 1000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact campaigns director, Justin Kerswell on the same number or by emailing email@example.com.
If the photo is used please credit Joseph Meredith. Viva! filmed these enriched cages during a recent investigation - pictures and footage available.
'Enriched' cages must provide 750 cm2 of space per hen as well as limited perching, nesting and scratching facilities (DEFRA, 2002). This meagre extra space requirement, less than a postcard sized space per bird, means hens will still be severely restricted and unable to stretch or flap their wings. As there will only be one nest box and very limited perching and dust bathing areas in each cage, the hens will be forced to compete for access to these sites. Dominant hens may prevent others from ever accessing these facilities. Most birds in enriched cages will still spend a significant proportion of their time standing on sloping wire mesh floors with little room to move around, and they will all still be denied fresh air and sunshine. For these reasons, all of the major animal welfare organisations in the EU continue to push for a complete ban on all cages. Hens kept in caged systems are still routinely debeaked to prevent injury from aggressive cage-mates - a problem caused by the intensive conditions they are forced to endure.
Visit www.viva.org.uk/cracked for further information.