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Chickens at one of UK's biggest producers are lame and struggling to breathe, footage shows

Laura FitzPatrick
A still from the Animal Equality UK footage - Animal Equality UK

Chickens at one of the UK’s biggest producers are lame and struggling to breathe due to cramped conditions, new footage shows.

A secret film has emerged from three farms in Lincolnshire run by Moy Park, which supplies meat to Ocado, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. The video shows dead birds left to rot and chickens unable to stand from extreme leg injuries.

Moy Park, which is responsible for 30 per cent of the British poultry market and delivers to supermarkets around the country, owns the three locations under scrutiny - Saltbox, Ladywath and Mount farms.

Ladywath farm, thought to be one of the worst offenders, holds up to 189,000 birds at a time thanks to a new double-decker chicken shed, one of the first in the UK designed for over 30,000 birds on each floor. 

The charity Animal Equality UK obtained the footage, which in some cases features days old chicks dead in the farms’ sheds.

The charity’s director, Toni Vernelli, said the conditions were “horrifying” and “unnatural”.

According to The Guardian, inspectors representing the Red Tractor assurance scheme visited the farms in question in April, May and June before the footage was made, and deemed them as failing to meet minimum animal welfare standards set by the industry scheme.

However there is no suggestion that the company has broken the law with its conditions.

The supermarkets supplied by Moy Park are now investigating their supply chains.

Jonty Whittleton World Animal Protection global farming campaigns head said: “Unfortunately these disturbing images are 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. 

“As shown in the footage 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.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for Moy Park said: “We have a zero-tolerance attitude toward anything that jeopardises the health and welfare of our birds and we are fully investigating these allegations. 

“We have robust processes in place to carefully monitor the welfare conditions for our birds and we have regular independent audits, taking corrective action with our farming partners if required.”