“These well-natured birds are treated as nothing more than Christmas commodities – packed into densely populated sheds.”
An undercover investigation into a deeply overcrowded Lincolnshire farm has revealed disturbing scenes of the abhorrent treatment of turkeys destined for Christmas dinners.
Leading vegan campaigning charity Viva! conducted the investigation. The farm in question is operated by poultry giant, Hook 2 Sisters Lt – a subsidiary of Amber Real Estate, owned by Ranjit Singh Boparan aka ‘the Chicken King’.
Footage taken in mid-October showed the birds crowded into ‘industrial-sized sheds that rob them of any freedom to express their natural behaviours, which include foraging, pecking and digging’.
The investigators also found dead birds strewn into the waste-sodden litter.
According to the charity, these birds are forced to endure miserably short lives behind closed doors, all for the sake of a Christmas dinner.
Gross violations and potential disease risk
Viva! shot the undercover footage before the government ordered all poultry be kept indoors because of the UK’s largest ever outbreak of bird flu.
So far this winter, there have been 59 confirmed cases of bird flu in captive birds (inc. commercial poultry) up from eight instances in the same period last year.
“The total disregard for animal health and welfare witnessed on this farm is utterly depressing,” Vet Marc Abraham said.
“I was appalled to see dead birds left rotting on the farm floor, which not only presents an obvious risk to hygiene, but also poses a potential disease risk to the whole flock, particularly now with avian flu cases worryingly on the rise.”
He added: “It’s hard to imagine that any sufficient, adequate, and important health and welfare checks were routinely carried out on this particular turkey farm.”
‘Abhorrent for animals’
Head of Investigations, Lex Rigby, said: “These well-natured birds are treated as nothing more than Christmas commodities – packed into densely populated sheds, they experience nothing but pain and misery before sent to slaughter at a mere fraction of their natural lifespan.”
Rigby added that animal agriculture is abhorrent for animals and factory farms like these also pose significant threats to human health and the climate catastrophe.
She added: “Scourging the British countryside, they’re a hotbed of disease, with the potential to spawn our next global pandemic – and with the rise of bird flu cases, we can’t be far off. So why not truly bring peace to all this Christmas and try vegan instead.”
Calling the evidence a ‘gross distortion of the facts’, a Hook 2 Sisters spokesman told The Independent that “a proper independent evaluation of standards can never be made by viewing a 50-second, selectively-edited piece of footage provided by a vegan group.”
“This farm was independently audited twice as recently as December 14 and 15 and no issues of concern about bird health or welfare were raised at any point,” the spokesperson added.
“It was already accredited and the true position is that it has good animal husbandry standards with healthy, well-cared for birds.”
However, after reviewing the footage, a spokesperson for Red Tractor told the publication: “Protecting animal health and welfare is a top priority and we take any allegations of breaches to our standards very seriously.
“We launched an immediate investigation as soon as we were made aware of the footage, to substantiate the claims and to review the behaviours seen. Corrective action will be taken where necessary.”
- Vegan charity calls on Kamala Harris ‘to lead by example and go all in on animal-free eating’ in January
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