SUPPORTERS of free-range poultry products are set to mount a campaign in North Devon to encourage people to shun cheap, factory farmed chickens. Animal welfare advocates have told the Gazette that they intend to contact national supermarket chains and hop

SUPPORTERS of free-range poultry products are set to mount a campaign in North Devon to encourage people to shun cheap, factory farmed chickens.Animal welfare advocates have told the Gazette that they intend to contact national supermarket chains and hope to be able to work with them to assess what their customers really want. They also plan to set up an information stall in a "strategic place" for a week to inform people of the way that different types of chicken are produced. The campaign is being inspired by celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's bid to turn East Devon's Axminster into Britain's first free-range town.His three-part television expose on chicken farming put Axminster firmly under the national spotlight earlier this month.This week, campaign instigator Joanne Bell, from Yelland told the Gazette that she had written to Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall to ask for his support in her efforts to encourage North Devon to go free-range."Some 10,000-plus birds stuffed in sheds with no sunshine or perches is totally unacceptable," she said."Each and every one of us is to blame when we make the decision to buy cheap, factory farmed chickens instead of free-range."Now is the time we have a chance to change this."All it takes is for each and every one of us to pay a couple of quid extra when we buy our next chicken." Mrs Bell said she did not accept that people on low incomes had to buy into cruelty or that they were less caring than those on higher incomes."I believe we all want compassion and ethical standards in our treatment for all farm animals."This week, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall said: "It's fantastic that people are demonstrating their support in such practical ways. It only takes one person in a town or village to start the ball rolling. Well done, Joanne."Anyone who is interested in adding their support to the local campaign can telephone Joanne Bell on (01271) 860989; Alice Cooke on (01271) 860681; or Peter Creswell on (01271) 813172. For more information about Hugh Fearnley-Witterstall's campaign, visit www.chickenout.tv