An undercover video shows overcrowding and chickens allegedly being deprived of water at eight farms in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
Animal protection charity Animal Equality released the distressing scenes of the animal suffering on the farms, which they say are all Red Tractor-certified and operated by Moy Park.
The footage was filmed in late 2019 and was then passed on to DEFRA’s Animal and Plant Health Agency, the RSPCA and Red Tractor in early 2020. Moy Park also received the footage in March.
The video claims that the birds are “cruelly deprived of their most basic needs” and hundreds of chickens suffered “agonising deaths each day as workers painfully crush the chickens’ necks in their hands”.
However, Moy Park claimed that “despite the examples highlighted, the overall flocks were displaying natural behaviours and appear in good health.”
The company added that the farms were also investigated by local authorities and regulators, with no major breaches identified.
*Warning – distressing images below, discretion advised
The undercover footage alleges that “around 30,000 birds are crammed into each bleak shed” and can be seen “gasping for air, their hearts and lungs barely unable to cope with the strain from their enormous bodies”.
It also claims that after sitting for weeks on end on a urine-soaked floor causes some birds to develop “painful, red raw burns and blisters on their sensitive stomachs and feet” and that “water drinkers are routinely raised to heights which are impossible for smaller birds to reach”.
A spokesperson for Moy Park said: “We treat this matter very seriously and upon receipt of this video in March, we immediately initiated an investigation conducted by our team of veterinary experts to ensure compliance with our animal welfare standards.
“A robust assessment of the farms and a review of the footage by an experienced veterinary surgeon specialising in poultry, found that despite the examples highlighted, the overall flocks are displaying natural behaviours and appear in good health in the majority of footage.
“We have implemented measures to ensure the required standards are adhered to on our farms, including refreshed training manuals, and upgraded face-to-face and online training.
“Any breach is completely unacceptable and would result in immediate corrective actions.
“This particular footage is edited with an agenda in mind, and we are confident that it is not reflective of the high standards and certified practices upheld across our wider farming community.”
Abigail Penny, Executive Director of Animal Equality UK, said: “These 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.”
This isn’t the first time Moy Park, who supplies Tesco and Ocado, has found itself in the middle of controversy as thousands of dead chickens were found dumped outside of an intensive poultry farm on the outskirts of Lincoln last summer.