Animal rights network Direct Action Everywhere [DxE] has released photos from a recent undercover investigation at an egg farm in Colorado.
According to DXE, the photos were taken at Colorado Egg in Hudson, CO, a farm the group says supplies cage-free egg to Costco Wholesale.
Activists say they found chickens packed three high into so-called 'enriched colonies' - despite Costco’s website purporting to show a cage-free farm. Video release by the activists shows rotten carcasses tangled into the wires of the cage floor.
DxE investigator, Alyssa Landi, said: "The floor inside the farm was caked with three inches of feces and dust, and even one breath of the air burned your lungs.
"We could hardly bear being inside for a few minutes at a time.
"Calling this farm humane is an outright lie."
According to DXE: "In addition to the severe crowding and trampling, the footage shows birds in extremely poor health, many with almost no feathers remaining.
"Investigators found one bird with half of the skin on her head removed to show an open, festering scab.
"Another bird, later named Bailey, was found trapped inside of the complex machinery used in the facility, the operations of which are almost fully automated. With no access to food or water, she was severely emaciated.
"Both hens were removed by the investigators and provided with urgent veterinary care."
According to Costco's website, 78 percent of the eggs it sells comes from cage-free sources. The brand announced plans in 2015 to source all its eggs from cage-free suppliers.
A statement released by Costco at the time said: "We are comfortable with the animal welfare aspects of the operation."
'Left to die'
DxE investigator, Max Carr, said: "The farm basically left these birds to die in that barn, and many of them did.
"It’s especially shocking because most people don’t think of eggs as a product that animals die for.
"We saw dozens of carcasses, and countless more must have been buried under the piles of birds we never had a chance to see under."
PBN contacted Costco but a spokesperson declined to comment.