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Carl Scott plans to spend the next month cooped up in a cage in Otago but he reckons he'll still be better off than battery hens.
The 41-year-old vegan says that for conditions to be like the hens' living hell, he would need five or six more people in his cage, which is about 190cm across and 130cm high.
Mr Scott started his voluntary imprisonment on Tuesday, in an empty section beside State Highway 1 at Waikouaiti.
He has been spurred into action by a draft code issued by the Government's National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. Submissions on it will close on April 29, the day his protest will end.
Mr Scott says the committee's proposed "enriched cages", designed to improve hens' lives, are not enough. Extra space for each hen will amount to about the size of a credit card, and they will be unable to express a full range of natural behaviour.
At present, battery hens have floor space of less than a piece of A4 paper, live above their own excrement, cannot flap their wings, stretch or walk around and suffer painful skin damage and injuries from their living conditions, Mr Scott says.
Although his preference is for people not to eat eggs, he accepts this is unrealistic, so he advocates outdoor free-range hens.
Yesterday, "day two", Mr Scott's morale was high, although he had a "sore bum" from his seat and hoped to secure a cushion.
He is using yoga stretches to keep flexible, because the only time he can extend his body is while lying down. He will not leave the cage other than in an emergency. His supplies are in reach, sheltered under a tent.
His only seat is also a makeshift toilet for solid waste. He has a sealed-lid bucket for liquid waste.
The former territorial soldier says he understands the need for stringent hygiene in his situation. A cold-water sponge bath is his only washing facility.
A friendly neighbour has allowed Mr Scott to run an extension cord from his property, giving him power for wireless internet access and to charge his cellphone. A solar-powered torch provides light at night.
Food and water are being supplied by his main supporter, his uncle Matt Scott, and other friends and family are also helping.
Carl Scott is grateful his bosses at his two part-time jobs, as a gardener and orchard worker, have given him leave for the protest.
During his time in the cage, he plans to write letters and articles, update a Facebook page created for the protest, and talk to passersby about his action.
He chose the site for its proximity to Waikouaiti egg producer Mainland Poultry.
Mainland Poultry managing director Michael Guthrie, who is also chairman of the Egg Producers Federation, said he was unaware of the protest and was unable to comment.
- Otago Daily Times