Harrowing footage has been released today which shows workers ‘failing to properly euthanise’ chickens at farms supplying Lidl, Asda and Nandos.
Video and photos appear to show injured and distressed birds living in cramped conditions at the sites across Northamptonshire, which serve some of the UK’s major supermarkets.
The footage has been released by the charity Animal Equality, which claims workers can be seen breaking birds’ necks and leaving them to die over several minutes on the floor.
The group also claims the birds were left to die before being pecked at by other chickens, and were kicked and stamped on by farm workers.
Video and photos appear to show injured and distressed birds living in cramped conditions at the sites across Northamptonshire
Animal Equity claims dozens of birds collapsed under the weight of their ‘unnaturally large bodies’ and were unable to stand, flapping frantically in a desperate attempt to lift themselves up
Pictures released by the welfare charity show chickens with splayed legs and flapping their wings in distress.
The footage was recorded at Evenley, Pimlico and Helmdon farms, in Northamptonshire, which are all certified by Red Tractor and run by Avara Foods.
Investigators say they found bin bags full of dead birds at one of the three farms during visits from January to March, following a tip-off.
Animal Equity claims dozens of birds collapsed under the weight of their ‘unnaturally large bodies’ and were unable to stand, flapping frantically in a desperate attempt to lift themselves up.
It said dead birds left to rot among the living, leading to cannibalism on at least one farm, while dying birds were thrown onto a pile and left to suffer for hours as workers cleared the shed for slaughter.
The charity also said workers were ‘callously breaking birds’ necks and leaving them to convulse amidst the flock.’
Dying birds thrown onto a pile and left to suffer for hours as workers cleared the shed for slaughter
The group also alleges workers were deliberately kicking and stepping on birds repeatedly.
A Nandos spokesman said the restaurant chain was ‘disappointed with the footage’.
Pictures released by the welfare charity show chickens with splayed legs and flapping their wings in distress
The chickens were left to die and rot at the farms after they were subjected to ‘extreme sufferinf’
Ian Woodhurst World Animal Protection UK’s farming campaigns manager said, ‘Sadly, this disturbing footage is typical of the low welfare practices on many factory farms across the UK where chickens are crammed together and grown so unnaturally fast their hearts, legs and lungs can barely take the pressure.
‘Some die before slaughter due to exhaustion or heart failure.
‘We’re urging companies to use slower growing chicken breeds and working to end the terrible suffering endured by chickens on factory farms all around the world. Consumers can help reduce this suffering by buying chicken with higher welfare labels and by eating less meat.’
Investigators say they found bin bags full of dead birds at one of the three farms
Red Tractor has been contacted for comment.
Asda and Lidl referred to a statement from the British Retail Consortium, which read: ‘Our members take their responsibilities to animal welfare very seriously and work closely with trusted suppliers so that high welfare standards are upheld. They have strict processes in place and will thoroughly investigate any evidence of non-conformity to ensure that any problems are immediately addressed.’
A Nandos spokesman added: ‘Animal welfare is as important to us as it is to our customers which is why all of our chickens are barn reared in the UK to Red Tractor standards.
‘We expect all our suppliers to operate to high standards and we are disappointed with the footage. We will be working closely with the supplier to get to the bottom of these allegations, ensuring immediate actions are taken to bring all their sites up to standard’.
A spokesman for Avara Foods said one flock had experienced an infection when the birds were young which impacted on leg health.
Avara said vets inspected the flock and prescribed medication, ‘after which the bird’s health improved.’
A Nandos spokesman said the restaurant chain was ‘disappointed with the footage’
The spokesman added: ‘We take our responsibilities for the birds in our care very seriously and their health and welfare is of the utmost importance.
‘Our farmers are required to carefully inspect flocks on a daily basis – to identify any birds requiring attention or which may need to be culled.
‘We have closely examined the contents of this report to assess compliance against our procedures. Initial findings indicate that, for the farm involved, our requirement to remove any culled or fallen birds as soon as they are identified has not been followed. We will take all necessary action to ensure that this situation does not reoccur. Anyone found not to be meeting our standards will be subjected to comprehensive retraining and further steps will be taken if appropriate.
‘Red Tractor, the RSPCA and the Government’s Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) have also made unannounced visits since this footage was taken and were satisfied with the health and welfare of the birds.’