Petition urges ostrich farm plans to be 'scrapped'
- Credit: Archant
A petition with over 15,000 signatures is urging Fenland District Council to reject plans for an ostrich farm.
Animal activists People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claim the proposed farm in Murrow, near Wisbech should be "scrapped" as it "would confine sensitive ostriches in an unnatural environment and condemn hundreds to slaughter every year".
The statement from the organisation also accuses the applicant of "profiteering off their flesh" and of "selling their skin for 'luxury' leather bags and their feathers sold to 'adorn' homes".
Elisa Allen, a director for PETA said: “Thousands of compassionate people have spoken, and Fenland District Council should heed their concerns for animal welfare, the environment, and the health of the community.
“PETA is calling for this plan to be scrapped, sparing hundreds of exotic birds a lifetime of suffering and an agonising death.”
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A surge in demand for ostrich meat prompted Fenland farmer Gary Patrick to diversify into breeding and raising the birds.
Last month, he submitted plans for the site on Home Farm, in Hooks Drove to build a new agricultural building and extend an existing one for the venture.
The proposals also include a security fence, entrance gates and an earth bund around the fields where the birds will graze.
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While Wisbech St Mary parish council has submitted its approval, individuals across the country are objecting to the plans on Fenland District Council's planning platform.
PETA claims that if the application goes ahead, "hundreds of birds would be crammed into the proposed building, treated as egg-laying machines, and denied the chance to do many of the things that come naturally to them - such as sharing parenting responsibilities, nurturing their chicks, and roaming vast distances".
The activists say ostriches are social bird who can roam up to 12 miles a day - and reach speeds of up to 60mph.
While the birds can live for up to 40 years, PETA states those exploited on farms are usually between a year and 18 months old when they're sent to the abattoir.
"Ostriches are large animals capable of killing humans with their kicks and could be a danger to farm workers and nearby residents," it added.
The original planning application to Fenland planners explains ostriches on farms are kept in small groups, with one male for two or three females.
The design and access statement explains: “They have their own field and shelter surrounded by hedgerows.
“The females lay their eggs in a sand pit in the middle of each field, one egg every other day during the season.”
Eggs are collected every afternoon and placed into incubators until they hatch six weeks later.
“They are then transferred into the ostrich nursery and carefully looked after,” the statement says.
The birds will also be inspected twice a day and warning signs will be on display to warn the public.