Shocking animal cruelty at UK chicken egg farm

Animal News : Shocking animal abuse at UK chicken egg farm
Man holding chicken by his leg, credit: still from video Animal Justice Project

Shocking undercover footage released on Monday shows workers mistreating female chickens at a farm in England. The workers were seen kicking, throwing and stamping on chickens.

The exposed animal cruelty at Sunrise Poultry farms was caught on video by the animal rights organization Animal Justice Project (AJP). 

The farm sells eggs to supermarkets and was approved as having high animal welfare standards by the biggest animal welfare organization in the United Kingdom, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). 

Catcher gangs
When female chickens reach the age of 1.5 years, they ‘produce’ fewer eggs. When that happens, farmers consider the animals useless and kill them, which is called depopulation.

A.D. Harvey is a company that collects female chickens at farms and kills them. AD Harvey’s ‘catcher gangs,’ as they are known in the egg industry, are sent to farms to catch, transport and kill the chickens.

AJP followed these gangs during their nighttime visits at farms -from caged to free-range- to collect the chickens. At the farms, chickens were forced down the shelves or pulled from cages by any means necessary: this included hitting, pushing, stamping, kicking and throwing.

Held upside down
Chickens were grabbed roughly by one leg and held upside down. The animals were clearly in distress, screaming and flapping their wings. The A.D. Harvey workers saw speed as the highest priority; the chickens’ wellbeing was an insignificant factor. 

Workers were seen carrying many chickens by one leg from the farms to stacks of crates, known as ‘modules,’ where they were forcefully thrown into the drawers on top of each other for transportation. The drawers were slammed shut with little concern for trapped wings, limbs, and heads. The animals were then killed at slaughterhouses.

In the aftermath of the depopulation proces, AJP filmed chickens severely injured, stunned and left for dead on the shed floors of farms. The animals were seen trying to move with broken legs and wings. Some didn’t move at all.

Sunrise Poultry and AD Harvey are both members of RSPCA Assured, an accreditation program for high-quality farm standards. In response to the undercover video footage, RSPCA Assured has suspended AD Harvey and initiated an investigation.

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