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An undercover investigation of a major chicken supplier has revealed ‘severe animal suffering’.

International animal protection organization, Animal Equality, filmed what it describes as ‘distressing’ footage at eight British chicken farms across Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.

All the facilities are operated by Moy Park – one of the UK’s largest chicken producers, which supplies Tesco among other outlets – and all are Red Tractor-certified.

Dying of thirst

According to Animal Equality, the footage shows ‘chickens deprived of water as drinkers are routinely raised to a height that they are unable to reach, hundreds of chickens suffering agonising deaths each day as workers painfully crush the chickens’ necks in their hands; and chickens developing raw skin burns on their feet and chests from filthy, urine-soaked floors’.

In addition, chickens are so big, so quickly, that they suffer from leg injuries and are unable to carry the weight of their own oversized bodies, and are crammed into immensely overcrowded barns, barely able to move or stretch their wings.

‘Investigation’

Addressing the investigation, a Tesco spokesperson said: “We require all our suppliers to uphold high animal-welfare standards. We were made aware of this footage earlier this year and immediately investigated.

“The farms shown have been inspected by veterinary experts, local authorities and regulators. Where issues were found, Moy Park has implemented measures to ensure the required high standards are met.”

‘Very seriously’

A Red Tractor spokesperson said: “We take animal welfare very seriously. All the farms in the footage were investigated by us and stakeholder partners including their vet, the APHA and trading standards to ensure there was a comprehensive account of farm practices.

“No evidence was found of breaches to legal requirements or Red Tractor standards.”

‘Never stood a chance’

But Abigail Penny, executive director of Animal Equality UK, said the ‘poor chickens never stood a chance’.

“Moy Park’s actions are consistently underpinned by profit; this is a company that spends an eye-watering £700,000 on a CEO salary, yet instructs workers to kill vulnerable chicks at just a few days old, simply because they’re no longer considered profitable. Moy Park’s greed is unrelenting,” she added.

“McDonald’s, Tesco and others buying from this supplier are refusing to show even the smallest ounce of mercy to these innocent chickens. Consumers appalled by these practices can try vegan and do better by chickens today.”

Animal Equality is running a campaign urging McDonald’s to sign the Better Chicken Commitment. You can find out more here

*Article updated 13/08/20. This article previously stated that the farm shown in this article supplies McDonald’s. However, a McDonald’s spokesperson told PBN that the farm does not supply the chain when approached for comment.