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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Nada Farhoud

Chickens 'crushed to death by machinery' on farm which supplies British supermarkets

Chickens were “crushed to death” and “run over” by machinery on a farm which supplies British supermarkets, new footage shows.

Some of the birds were still alive left with severe injuries, while one can be seen crawling on the floor with broken legs, the film appears to show. Another lies gasping with an open wound exposing their internal organs, footage shows.

Employee Tom Herok gave his footage from the Lincolnshire farm, which supplies Two Sisters, to animal welfare organisation Open Cages. The chicken is sold in Asda, Aldi, Co-op and Tesco.

Two Sisters also supplied Lidl with what they say was a small amount fresh chicken but ended their contract “sometime ago”. When asked by the Mirror they have refused to state when. Lidl told the Mirror the farm does not supply their supermarkets.

Tom claims working at the farm for five months last year was “one of the worst experiences” of his life, adding: “These animals are suffering but retailers are hiding the truth.”

During his employment, Tom Herok claims he was warned he would see birds being ‘run over” with members of staff saying ‘it’s part of the job and can’t really be avoided.’

Another scene from footage seen by the Mirror also appears to show workers collecting dozens of eviscerated birds inside the recently emptied barns. He claims staff later told him that they were ‘run over’ and killed by a forklift whilst being transported.

He also claims that workers told him that fast growing chickens - dubbed frankechickens, which are slaughtered at just six weeks old - suffer from “broken legs'', “heart attacks'', “suffocation”, “arthritis”, “deformities'' and chemical burns from urine “burning their feet all the time.’ “

Tom claims: "There is widespread animal cruelty within the UK chicken industry and retailers are hiding that from us. On numerous farms supplying retailers I not only saw animals being carelessly crushed to death. I saw first hand the daily struggle of a Frankenchicken.

"It was my job to put thousands of them out of their misery."

Open Cages is filing a criminal complaint against the farm for what it claims are multiple breaches of animal welfare laws and regulations.

TV Presenter and animal advocate Chris Packham said: “I’ve never seen such disgraceful disregard for the welfare of chickens in all my life.”

Connor Jackson, CEO and Co-founder of Open Cages said: ”Not only are these defenceless animals suffering from infections, broken bones and burns from laying in their own waste, they’re in ever present danger of being carelessly run over and torn apart.”

He added: “Lidl won’t solve this by cutting ties with one farm. The only way for Lidl to address this problem is to sign the Better Chicken Commitment (BCC).”

The BCC prohibits the use of fast growing breeds and overcrowded conditions. Hundreds of companies have already pledged to meet these improved standards, including Lidl France, KFC, Greggs, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.

Open Cages, along with 51 animal welfare experts, has signed an open letter to retailers urging them to sign up.

A Tesco spokesperson said: “These allegations are incredibly serious and are clearly unacceptable. As soon as we became aware of them we contacted our supplier to carry out an investigation. We are monitoring the situation closely while this investigation takes place.”

Two Sisters said: “We fully condemn any reports of animal welfare breaches and any violations of the high standards we expect all farm workers to uphold.

"We maintain a zero tolerance approach to any confirmed instances of welfare non-compliance, however isolated, and as we continue to investigate this matter.

"Our initial review of independent welfare and veterinary data for the period shown reveals the overwhelming majority of bird at this accredited farm are healthy and well-managed.

"Focusing on isolated examples using selectively-edited video footage often does not show the reality on the ground. In fact, all it does is paint a distorted and misrepresentative picture of the true high standards all farmers strive for every day, including at this location.

"All our farms operate to UK and EU legislation and are independently audited and accredited to Red Tractor standards as a minimum.”

Red Tractor said: “The farm in question was subject to a regular independent inspection earlier this year and found to comply with our core standards. Nevertheless, we are concerned by the footage and have already started a new investigation to be sure that compliance on the farm continues.”

Asda said: “We have comprehensive animal welfare policies in place which our suppliers must uphold, and our priority is to source from producers accredited to Red Tractor assured standards.”

A Co-op spokesperson added : “Looking after the animals in our care is a priority for us and we are proud supporters of British Farming, allowing us to conveniently provide great quality, 100% British protein and we have immediately spoken to our supplier to understand more details about this footage”.

Aldi did not comment but on their behalf the British Retail Consortium’s Andrew Opie, said: “Retailers know how important animal welfare is to their customers and work closely with their British farmers to ensure all chicken is produced to high standards. Supermarkets are keen to deliver the best value for hard-pressed consumers, while offering a choice of how their chicken is produced, clearly labelling different farming methods."

A spokesman for Lidl added: “The farm and supplier in question does not supply Lidl. We take animal welfare extremely seriously and have long been committed to increasing welfare and traceability standards throughout our supply chain.”

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