Extreme Suffering And Beatings Filmed On Red Tractor Chicken Farms

An undercover investigation filmed workers kicking and stamping on birds, as well as dead animals left to rot among the living - leading to cannibalism on at least one farm
Chicken on Red Tractor Farm
Multiple birds could not stand because of the unnaturally large size of their bodies (Photo: Animal Equality)

New footage of three Red Tractor-certified chicken farms in Northamptonshire reveals animals being kicked and abused.

Investigators from leading international animal protection organization Animal Equality, made multiple visits to the farms between January and March 2019 after receiving a tip-off about poor conditions.

They filmed workers breaking birds' necks and leaving them to convulse amidst the flock; workers deliberately kicking and stepping on birds; and dying birds thrown onto a pile and left to suffer for hours. On one farm, they recorded dead birds left to rot among the living, leading to cannibalism. Footage also shows birds who have collapsed under the weight of their unnaturally large bodies and are unable to stand.

Red Tractor

Red Tractor is an accreditation scheme, claiming to have 'animal health and welfare' at its heart. But according to Dr. Vernelli, it is 'an industry-led body started by farmers to promote British farming and products...Consumers often think it's a welfare standard, when it isn't'.

Red Tractor told The Mirror it has set up a program of unannounced inspections at the sites.

"As soon as we were made aware of alleged breaches to our standards, we launched an independent investigation,"Red Tractor said in a statement. "The footage did highlight some issues in terms of Red Tractor ­standards and we require all personnel involved with the three farms to undergo additional training, including the prompt identification of sick birds, bird euthanasia and ­behaviour around catching."

Footage from the investigation

Animal suffering

"Sensationalist headlines about American chlorinated chicken would have us believe that British birds live a life of luxury, but these harrowing scenes reveal the truth," Animal Equality's UK Director, Dr. Toni Vernelli, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.

"Crammed inside crowded sheds and bred to grow so unnaturally large that their joints and hearts can't cope with the strain, chickens on British farms suffer every minute of their lives.

"Labels and certificates don't prevent animals from suffering in the meat industry, but consumers can. Delicious, plant-based options are now widely available in shops and restaurants across the UK. It's never been easier to leave chickens off your plate."

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Maria is the Editor of Plant Based News. A former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers. She was previously the editor of Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.

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