Easter chicken walk

SAFE Oamaru co-coordinator Lorraine Weston-Webb fundraised for SAFE by walking 110 km from Oamaru to Waitati near Dunedin, in a homemade chicken costume! Lorraine raised near $1000 for SAFE's No Cages campaign and raised awareness for the plight of battery hens at the same time (Lorraine's ‘Chicken Walk' made it to the local paper twice). SAFE would like to thank Lorraine for coming up with the idea and carrying out such a successful fundraiser! Here's Lorraine's story about her experience:

In 2000 I was a member of the Waikouaiti Action Group formed to oppose the massive development of Mainland Poultry. The Environment Court listened to their well-paid ‘experts', ignored our concerns, and sanctioned the large-scale industrial egg producer. We lost heart ... and money. Soon after I witnessed hunters shooting wild birds flying over Mainland's property on their sky route between the twin wetlands of Waikouaiti and Merton. People who knew the hunters said that the manager had told them to kill as many as they could because wild bird droppings could lead to disease in the caged hens. The birds shot (illegally) included ducks, swans, paradise ducks, even Royal Spoonbills. I moved away then, unable to live within sight of caged hens suffering for the greed and stupidity of humans, and swans screaming and plunging to earth. 

Recently I watched the Campbell Live programme about the so-called enriched colony cages at Mainland Poultry and my smouldering anger flared again against the industry. I continue to be appalled that these egg producers condemn chickens to a miserable life and death. I read Annie Potts wonderful new book ‘Chicken' and I got the idea to do a sponsored walk from Oamaru to Waitati over Easter, a distance of 110kms divided into four days. I talked to SAFE people and gathered pledges from family and friends. Then I did some on-road walking training. Approx. $700 was pledged by the start of the walk. During the walk I met a number of people who are appalled by the cruelty of factory farming, many of them from farming families themselves. Some sponsored me there and then, so a week later, it's looking like together we will have raised close to $1,000 for SAFE's NoCages Campaign. 

I had fine weather the whole way and enjoyed the walk especially along the remote roads and beaches off State Highway 1 away from the traffic. I walked at a steady but sedate pace through the beautiful North Otago landscape, observing the scenery and watching the ever-changing beautiful southern skies. My route took me through undulating low intensity farmland, with trees, hedgerows, birds, insects and a variety of domestic animals. Kakanui Riverside walk was lovely with lots of bird species. Just south of the Goodwood Road loop is the aptly named Pleasant River and the area is indeed scenic with Bobbys Head and Tavora Scenic Reserve nearby. 

Being vegan I am unhappy that animals are farmed for slaughter, and I looked carefully for any signs of stress in the animals I saw. Andrina and Liz were walking with me on the first afternoon when we came upon a cast sheep so Andrina hopped over the fence and helped her up and she was fine. All the animals ignored vehicles, but a human on legs was cause for a variety of entertaining emotions and behaviours - jumping, prancing, snorting, grouping together to watch me, and sometimes boldly or cautiously approaching me.

People sometimes stopped to invite me for a cup of tea, offer a ride, or just to make sure that I was okay. My family and friends made the walk a real team effort with supportive texts and calls. As well as Andrina and Liz, I also had the company of friends Carolyn and Lorraine B on the afternoon of day four, and Carl Scott walked to meet us at Waitati. And when I decided to walk a further 10kms to Lindsay's place, Lindsay and Reece biked to accompany me for the last half hour in the dark. 

Here is a summary of my route:
Day 1, 26.8km - Oamaru to Waianakarua via Kakanui coastal route (stayed at Olive Grove backpackers)
Day 2, 31.6km - Waianakarua to Palmerston, via Hampden, Moeraki Beach and Horse Range Road (stayed at Pioneer Motel)
Day 3, 24.4km - Palmerston to Waikouaiti, via Goodwood loop and McCallum-Horse-Galbraith-Quarry loop (stayed at Golden Fleece Hotel)
Day 4, 27.1km - Waikouaiti to Waitati via coastal Karitane, Seacliff & Warrington

I have ended up with a stress fracture in my foot, but that will heal and it is nothing compared to the suffering of hens. What has moved me most about doing the walk is that people expressed gratitude to have the opportunity to voice their outrage over caged hens and to donate for the campaign to stop it. I feel that I have been a conduit for their profound concern about the total damage factory farming does to the animals and to the human psyche.


Well done Lorraine!

16 April 2012