Working towards a more compassionate world through education and advocacy

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Your support in lobbying for the label ‘Cage eggs’ to become obligatory on cartons of eggs from hens trapped in battery cages, has not been in vain.


“Compassion in World Farming (SA), urges DAFF to enable SA consumers to buy in terms of our consciences – by giving us transparency through labelling.”


Kevin Lovell, CEO of the South African Poultry Association, has pooh-poohed every call by Compassion in World Farming SA for a phase out of the atrociously cruel battery system for laying hens. He said: “When more consumers can afford to spend more on their food, then more consumers will exercise their discretion to buy in terms of their consciences.” Note from Louise: Yes, Mr Lovell, that’s why we want labels that say ‘Cage Eggs’ so consumers can make informed decisions and buy in terms of their consciences!”


A HUGE THANK YOU to Eileen Chapman, Compassion in World Farming’s Gauteng representative, who orchestrated the event at DAFF’s offices, and thank you to Kelly Schlesinger for her awesome placards which we proudly displayed outside. I think it would be safe to say that this was a first for DAFF!

Dear Friends,


Your immensely valued support in lobbying for the label ‘Cage eggs’ to become obligatory on cartons of eggs from hens trapped in battery cages, has not been in vain.


On Friday last week the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) afforded Compassion in World Farming (SA) an opportunity to speak at its public meeting held in Pretoria, on the Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill.


Before closing the meeting Chairperson Theo van Rensburg gave Compassion SA’s Vishalia Pillay the floor.


She said: “India is among the top three countries in the world with the highest levels of poverty yet the Indian people have not put poverty ahead of conscience.


“By 2017, 23 states in India will be free of battery cages for laying hens – on the grounds of inhumane treatment of animals.

“Currently, India has the fastest-growing economy and the fact that India is ahead in technology is evidence of a thinking society.


“To put conscience above all else, as India is doing, despite poverty, is the way to become a sustainable country where people can aspire to attain Freedom of Conscience.


Photographed outside the offices of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, are (from Left):Smaragda Louw, Samantha Haacke, Clarewyn van der Merwe, Eileen Chapman, Janine Golden, Malissa van der Merwe, Vishalia Pillay... An extra HUGE thank you to Eileen Chapman, Compassion in World Farming’s Gauteng representative, who orchestrated the gathering at DAFF’s offices.   SEE MORE



Mysthill Dairy Farm - The only way a dairy farm should be!

Some 200 000 boy calves are born in the South African dairy industry annually. Because they will never produce milk and don’t grow fast enough to be profitable for the beef industry, most are sold for next-to-nothing to poor communities where they die painfully from incorrect nutrition. Please see Compassion’s video clip of their plight. Go to, scroll down to the video clips and click on “discarded boy calves”. Professor Cheryl McCrindle, lecturer at the School of Health Systems and Public Health at the University of Pretoria told a South African Bureau of Standards meeting earlier this year that the plight of boy or ‘bobby’ calves constituted “the most serious welfare problem in the dairy sector” in South Africa.

There’s a farm near George on the Southern Cape Coast that sets itself apart from other farms in the dairy industry... Farmer Mark de Villiers doesn’t deprive his cows of motherhood.


Mark agreed to tell Animal Voice editor Louise van der Merwe how humane farming of dairy cows is possible and within the reach of every farmer who claims to love cows.


Louise: Tell us, Farmer Mark, why, if I were a cow, would I choose to live on your farm with 130 of my sisters.


Farmer Mark: Well, for starters, you would graze on luscious green kikuyu pastures day in and day out.


Louise: What else?


Farmer Mark: Well, when you calved, we wouldn't take your calf away. You would raise your calf until he or she was naturally ready for weaning at anything between 6 and 9 months old.

Louise: Wow! For that reason alone, I would want to be on your farm. How are you able to give your cows the opportunity of motherhood whereas virtually all other calves in the entire commercial dairy industry are taken away within 24 hours of birth – the girls (heifers) put into narrow pens and the boys given away to impoverished communities, or they have their throats slit. How have you managed to achieve something that we have been fighting for 15 years?


Farmer Mark: In the evenings, the calves go into a special camp. We then milk our cows in the morning so that by 07h30 – 08h00, they are ready to go back into pasture with their calves at their sides. Every cow knows the unique smell of her own calf. There’s no mix-up... just contentment.


Louise: So the calves are free to suckle from their mothers throughout the day until they go into the special camp at night?


Farmer Mark: Yes. For the first few nights, mother and calf call to each other but they quickly learn that at daylight, they will be together again and they settle into the routine.


Louise: But if you milk only once a day instead of twice a day like other commercial farmers, are you sustainable in this cut-throat, price-driven market?


Farmer Mark: I obviously don’t get the production that a farmer who milks twice a day gets, but I get enough for my farm to be viable and sustainable. I get 10 – 12 litres of milk per cow per day with the calf taking between 6 and 7 litres a day on top of that. Twice-a-day milking would yield up to 22 litres a day and the calves would have to be given milk substitute.


Louise: Tell me why else I would want to be a cow on your farm (not that i need any more reason other than that I would mother my calf):


Farmer Mark: Well, you’d live much longer. I have cows of 15 years old. The life-span of a cow who is pushed to the limit in milk production, has a life-span of just four years. My cows are still producing calves at 15 years old!


Louise: What do you do with the little boy calves who will never produce milk and are considered ‘surplus’ to the industry and discarded?


Farmer Mark: The girls – the heifers – we keep. The boy calves stay with us until they are slaughter-ready at about 24 – 36 months. In a feed-lot they would be slaughtered at 18 months or less.


Louise: I thought that calves in the dairy industry, as opposed to the beef industry, are so slow-growing and fragile that it is unsustainable to rear them them for the meat market?


Farmer Mark: Our cows are Jerseys and Ayrshires and we have a Simmentaler bull who stays with the cows all year long and this gives us dual-purpose - good for milk and meat.


Louise: Please tell us about the bond between cow and calf.


Farmer Mark: It is incredibly strong. If a calf is born in the field, we carry the calf in the back of a bakkie to the barn and the mother trots alongside protectively. She will attack our dog if he were to come near her calf. Of course, he knows better!



She suffers, just like we do

“In the wake of horrific xenophobic violence and deaths, LEAD SA is currently doing all it can to promote our shared humanity, irrespective of where we hail from.


Every time I hear LEAD SA’S ‘They suffer, just like you’, an acute awareness hits me that it doesn’t begin or end with our ‘shared humanity’ – it begins and ends with our shared oneness with all life and I believe, in my heart, that we won’t find peace until we understand this.


The image is taken from Compassion in World Farming South Africa’s footage of slaughterhouses in South Africa.


This cow is fully conscious and blinks – before the captive bolt, held to her forehead, hits her again.

She suffers, just like we do.”


Louise van der Merwe
Director in South Africa: Compassion in World Farming

Urgent Appeal!

The poultry industry would like consumers to stay ignorant, docile and to buy blind! The poultry industry has objected to a Draft Amendment to egg labelling Regulations whereby, if the eggs in a carton come from hens in cages or batteries,  the word ‘cage’ must precede the word ‘eggs’ on the label. 


It claims that there is no need for the word ‘cage’ to appear on the label because “if the production method is not specified, it will be assumed (by consumers) that the eggs come from hens kept in cages or batteries.”

Now, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has given us until 31st March 2015 to comment on why the draft amendment to labelling regulations should not be re-amended so that the word ‘cage’ is not obligatory after all.


It is vitally important that we don’t lose Compassion (SA)’s years’-long battle to have the word ‘cage’ incorporated on cartons of battery eggs so that consumers can make informed choices.


Please ask friends and family to write as a matter of urgency and to change the words a bit in our emails so that they don’t become rejected as spam (we’ve only got until 31st March to do so)



Ms. Matlou SetatiChief Food Safety & Quality Assurance OfficerDirectorate: Food Safety & Quality AssuranceDepartment of Agriculture, Forestry and FisheriesE-mail:


You could say:


Sample Letter


We refer to Regulations regarding the grading, packing and marking of eggs destined for sale in the Republic of South Africa: Amendment.

Specifically, we refer to the new Amendment of Regulation 9 in which, following intervention by stakeholders in the poultry industry, the indication of the production method has been made optional on the grounds that consumers will naturally assume that unlabelled eggs come from hens kept in cages or batteries.

The ratification of this amendment would constitute a gross violation of our consumer right to transparency and our ability to make informed choices. Consumers in South Africa are forced through lack of access to information, to ‘buy blind’ because labelling laws do not identify the methods of production of animal-derived foods. Furthermore, we place our trust in the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) that it will support the promotion of access to information as a fundamental human right.


Thus we request you to revert to the earlier amendment which stipulates that the word ‘cage’ must precede ‘eggs’ on packing if the eggs comes from hens in cages or batteries.


Thanking you,Your name


‘End the Cage Age’ - Our biggest ever campaign

Compassion in World Farming headquarters has launched its biggest-ever campaign, targeting the ultimate symbol of cruelty and deprivation, the cage.

Join us at Compassion’s South African branch by adding your power to this campaign.

For a start ...


  • Sign our on-line petition and pass it on

  • Boycott Nulaid, the biggest battery egg producer in the country

  • Write to Pick n Pay’s egg buyer Gigi Bisogno  and ask him to evolve as a matter of urgency by taking all ‘caged’ products off their shelves. Email:

  • Write to Shoprite Checkers egg buyer Rudolph van Rooyen and ask him to evolve as a matter of urgency by taking all ‘caged’ products off their shelves. Email:


The November 2014 issue of Harper Magazine includes an article by Deb Olin Unferth titled "Cage Wars: A visit to the egg farm."  Here’s an excerpt: "Such a monstrous thing we have constructed, out of wire and cement and steel, so huge you can't see the other end, so filthy you can hardly breathe, stuffed with living beings for which we are responsible." (Thank you Karen Dawn of DawnWatch for alerting us to this article)


With your help, we can End the Cage Age! Donate now.



by Louise van der Merwe

Will expansion into Africa with battery eggs and live broiler chickens rescue Quantum Foods from its financial doldrums?

Seems like 2014 has not been a good year for Quantum Foods which sells table eggs under the Nulaid label!


First there was its unreserved apology to the NSPCA in Junefor its ‘horror treatment’ of end-of-lay hens (Page 5 ofAnimal Voice July 2014 issue), then Agribusiness giant Pioneer Foods didn’t want Quantum as a subsidiary any more, and now, according to yesterday’s Sunday Times, Quantum has had a dismal performance on the JSE since listing earlier this month. Their share price started off trading at R5.25, but quickly dropped to R3.00.


In fact, on the 7th of this month, the day after the company listed, Business Day reported that market sources reckoned the Quantum listing (with the immediate drop in price) was largely as expected, with some arguing that the share price could come under further pressure if larger minority shareholders wanted to exit what is deemed a "difficult business". An analyst has recommended shareholders sell the share.


Quantum’s CEO Hennie Lourens told the Sunday Times that from an operational profit point of view, the last two years had been negative. However, he said he was ‘pretty confident’ that Quantum would show good returns in the year ahead with its egg investment into  Africa (Page 3 of Animal Voice October 2014 issue October 2014 issue) and with the selling of live broiler chickens.


Action Alert! 

As editor of Animal Voice, Louise van der Merwe suggests that it is tragic that companies like Quantum, after receiving bad publicity in SA, then expand their business into Africa where consumers are mostly less informed. Please email Quantum Foods’ Hennie Lourens:

You could say:Dear Mr Lourens, nothing good can come out of cruelty to chickens – not in South Africa, nor elsewhere in Africa. However, you can easily salvage Quantum Foods simply by ditching its battery egg division altogether and by making a fresh start with a humane and ethical endeavour.

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