Pressure group Animal Justice Project (AJP) recently carried out an extensive undercover investigation into RSPCA Assured, Red Tractor, and so-called 'high welfare' broiler chicken farms in Suffolk.
During this investigation, which was part of AJP's The Foul Truth campaign, the group filmed what it described as 'shocking levels of abuse, neglect, and killing'.
Footage from the investigation, which was shared by the Daily Mail, Mirror, Independent and regional newspapers - showed a worker urinating on dying birds, neck-breaking, and animals being thrown among other abuses.
"Perhaps the most distressing part was the scenes of catching. The fact that these birds were supposedly under the protection of RSPCA, it made no difference," AJP Founder Claire Palmer told Plant Based News.
"Workers grabbed many birds by their feet before throwing them into crates so hard they were pushed out of the top. Chickens had their heads, legs, and wings trapped, which would have caused great distress and likely severe injuries.
"The stress continued as workers kicked, swore at and yelled at the chickens who desperately fought to upright themselves and escape the crowded plastic crates. All in full view of others waiting for their turn."
According to Palmer, workers broke both RSPCA Assured and Red Tractor guidelines, with regards to sound levels being kept to a minimum. In addition, just a few workers caught 4,750 chickens in one hour - a speed which means humane treatment is not possible.
Dr. Andrew Knight, Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics, and Founding Director of the Centre for Animal Welfare, at the University of Winchester, watched the footage.
He said: "These abuses risk significant injuries including fractures. There is no excuse for such inhumane treatment of animals."
RSPCA and Red Tractor
"These were RSPCA birds. Not exactly what the public would expect from free-range chickens," said Palmer. "This is a sad reminder that The RSPCA, Red Tractor, the government, or supermarkets are unable to protect animals."
As a result of the investigation, The RSPCA suspended the farm it accredited from its scheme, saying: "We are shocked and disgusted. We are looking into these upsetting incidents."
Red Tractor said both Suffolk farms had been 'suspended with immediate effect', saying it takes 'allegations of breaches' seriously.
The expose has also come at a time when other NGOs are lobbying companies such as KFC to only use 'slow-growing' chickens. The birds filmed by AJP were indeed 'slow-growing', which throws doubt into how much this impacts on chickens in reality.
But this week the campaign has taken a brilliant and positive turn. This morning it was unveiled that there are three survivors. Fleur, Basil, and Rosie were found during the investigation at the side of a busy road, one which was a common route for slaughter trucks.
They managed to escape with their lives on the day they were going to be killed but now, thanks to AJP and a fantastic animal sanctuary, they are able to live out their days stress-free and surrounded by love and compassion.
These three chickens are just babies, but their condition when they were found, and their huge size, indicates they came from an intensive shed.
Since their rescue, they've been settling into a life free from harm. AJP has documented their rehabilitation and is now offering the birds for adoption. All proceeds will go to the organization to help it carry out more vital investigations into the farming industry.
"Our findings have revealed The Foul Truth about this industry. Whether factory-farmed, free-range or organic, we can guarantee it is 100 percent HARM ASSURED," Ayrton Cooper, Campaigner for AJP, said.
"Despite seeing such awful abuse on the farms during this investigation, we are delighted that there are three survivors.
"Fleur, Basil and Rosie are symbolic of an industry built on pain and suffering, no matter where you look. The answer isn't 'slow-growing', and it's not 'free-range'. Brutal handling and slaughter is standard. The answer is to go vegan."
You will receive an adoption certificate, a personalized letter from the Cluckers Crew, stickers featuring Fleur and Basil, and a portrait and frame. If the sponsorship is a gift, you can let AJP know, and the recipient's name will be added to their certificate.