Offbeat Video

By Becca Husselbee

A plucky school boy has condemned the use of caged chicken eggs by writing a letter pleading with a leading biscuit company to swap to free range.

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Nine-year-old Benjamin Nicholson, from Summertown, Oxford, rescued two battery hens 18 months ago after reading an online, anti-caged chicken campaign and is now on a mission to stop Mcvities from using caged hen eggs.

Ben wrote the letter back in May and it reads: “Dear McVities, I am disappointed to learn that you use caged eggs. Please can you use free range eggs. Thanks you.”

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However the young animal welfare supporters, who looks after his chickens with his six-year-old brother, Sam, has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

He said: “I’m going to be sending letters to Mr. Kipling and Millie’s Cookies next.”

Benjamin became away of the poor conditions for factory farmed hens after coming across a campaign from British Hen Welfare.

Benjamin said: “When I did some research I saw how awful it was for the hens and wanted to help them.”

Now the gutsy pupil is urging the firm, which uses eggs in products such as Jaffa Cakes and Gold Bars, to use free range eggs to help stop factory farming.

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Benjamin’s mum, Joanna Bowlt, said she was proud of her son for taking a stand against the company and that she also backs the campaign.

Joanna said: “I am not sure what inspired him particular.

“He was looking at the trust website and saw the free range campaign.

“We talked a bit about it and he realised that eggs go into making biscuits.”

The family rescued their two battery hens, cinnamon and chocolate, who were in such a shocking state they had lost most of their feathers.

Ever since, Benjamin has refused to eat some of his favourite biscuits.

Mum, Joanne, 48, said: “He thought then that we should stop eating them. He was offered one by somebody and he said ‘no I’m sorry you can’t eat that’.

“I am very proud of him, it’s a really important campaign. I think often you don’t think about it, you think about buying free range eggs but not products made using non-free range eggs.”

A statement from the owners of McVities, Pladis, said:”We take the issue of hen welfare seriously.

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“As a minimum, we require the eggs used in our range of products to be produced in accordance with the enhanced welfare standards for the protection of laying hens.

“These guidelines were introduced across the EU at the beginning of 2012 and we have worked within these standards ever since. The egg products we buy are either sourced from enriched cage or free-range egg laying systems.

“The sourcing of eggs is something we review regularly, and as a company, we ensure that all eggs entering our supply chain have come from farms which conform to EU standards.”

The British Hen Welfare Trust campaign founder, Jane Howorth said she hoped that the small action might help change McVities’ mind and added:

“We sincerely hope they change their ways and help improve welfare for laying hens.”