The RSPCA have shared their concerns about the welfare of chickens on Northamptonshire farms after a video showed the birds being kicked.
The farms, at Pimlico, and Helmdon and Evenley near Brackley, are all certified by Red Tractor, which claims that “animal health and welfare is at the heart” of its standards.
READ MORE: Footage reveals shocking abuse on Northamptonshire farms supplying chicken to Nando’s, Lidl and Asda
But dozens of birds have collapsed under the weight of their unnaturally large bodies and were left unable to stand as a result of such ill treatment. Chickens were filmed being deliberately kicked and stepped on in the harrowing footage, with workers caught callously breaking their necks and leaving them to convulse amid the flock.
An RSPCA spokeswoman said: “After viewing the footage, we shared the concerns raised about welfare and our inspectors visited.
"There were problems with some of the birds’ legs in the footage but staff produced evidence that they had been under the care of a vet and had been receiving appropriate treatment."
Dead birds were left to rot among the living, leading to cannibalism on at least one of three farms in Northamptonshire, which rear chickens for Faccenda, one of the UK’s largest chicken companies, and a supplier for major outlets including Nando’s, Lidl and Asda.
An RSPCA spokeswoman added: “However, we have real concerns about the realities of intensive farming practices which see fast-growing birds bred to provide maximum meat in a short space of time, which can cause severe health problems and lead to suffering.
“We will always look into and if necessary, investigate reports made to us, so ask anyone who has further concerns for the welfare of farm animals, or any animals, report it to us officially by calling our 24-hour cruelty line on 0300 1234 999.”
Animal Equality’s UK director, Dr Toni Vernelli, said, “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.
“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.”
A spokesman for Nando’s said: “Animal welfare is as important to us as it is to customers, which is why all of our chickens are barn-reared in the UK to Read Tractor standards.
“We expect all our suppliers to operate to high standards and we are disappointed with the footage.
"We will be working with the supplier to get to the bottom of these allegations.”
A spokesman for the British Retail Consortium, on behalf of Lidl and Asda, said: “Our members take their responsibilities to animal welfare very seriously and work closely with trusted suppliers so that high welfare standards are upheld.
"They have strict processes in place and will thoroughly investigate any evidence of non-conformity to ensure that any problems are immediately addressed.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site, The Sheffield Star.