An undercover investigation on a Somerset farm, which raises chickens for a major UK supplier, uncovered some shocking truths about the way their animals are treated. The farm supplies chickens to the second largest chicken company in the UK, Faccenda, who in turn supply to Nando’s, Asda and Lidl. The investigation raises questions over how aware consumers are of the animal welfare standards of the meat that they are buying.
The investigation was conducted by animal rights group Animal Equality. Whilst on the farm they took photos and video footage of the 150,000 animals who are packed tightly into 4 large sheds. The group found that the birds were treated with no respect, and many of them were injured or slowly dying due to the conditions that they were kept in. What shocked the investigators most were the hundreds of dead chicks thrown into a bin every single day.
Workers on the farm were found to be cruel to the animals, picking them up by one leg in order to put them in the transport truck or kicking them.
Paul Vaughn-France who owns the farm has responded to the findings stating that ‘I will take the images as good feedback and will do everything I can to work on every aspect of my husbandry. I have had an independent vet on site to review my practices and he is satisfied with his findings.’ which suggests that he intends to continue with the same practices.
Faccenda have commented that they are ‘disappointed’ with the footage but are still intending on using the farm as a chicken supplier.
Most worryingly, the farm has earned Red Tractor status, which in the UK is supposed to mean that the farm is one of the best in terms of animal welfare standards. According to the website, ‘Red Tractor farmers care about their animals’ however that doesn’t seem to be the case. Animal Equality have passed the footage onto Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) for investigation.
The findings suggest that people in the UK are completely unaware of the process that the animals go through before ending up on their plate. Recently, Earthling Ed released a UK focused documentary ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, which uncovers the reality of farming. Many people believe that the UK are one of the leading countries in animal welfare standards but investigations like these and the footage that appears in Earthling Ed’s film suggest differently.
It is unfair to hide this information from consumers who seem to want to make food choices that are most ethical and have a positive impact on the environment. It’s unlikely that many people opting to purchase ‘Red Tractor’ quality products are aware of this kind of animal treatment.