‘Full investigation’ launched over ‘cruel’ Morrisons chickens grown on Norfolk and Suffolk farms
Supermarket chain Morrisons says it has launched an urgent investigation after campaigners claimed chickens on farms run by its suppliers are being grown so fast they can barely stand up.
In a video narrated by the naturalist Chris Packham undercover filming claims to show fast-growing birds deformed and dying on farms in Norfolk and Suffolk.
Open Cages, an animal welfare charity, said new breeds of birds that grow fast feed consumers want for cheaper chicken. They claim modern chickens grow 400% faster than those farmed in 1950.
These chicks are born and locked into these giant factory farms. And in only 35 days are forced to grow to a monstrous size. Frankenchickens are cheap and efficient. Basically all cheap chicken will come from Frankenchicken breeds . People look at this footage and they will think that this is an anomaly – they’ll ask me if something illegal is happening here but no this is perfectly legal.
Connor Jackson, Open Cages Chief Executive
The organisation filmed in four intensive chicken farms in May and June.
Those farms supply the Cranswick chicken factory which provides meat for Morrisons labelled Red Tractor approved, something designed to reassure people of high standards.
ITV News approached Red Tractor for a comment but have not had a response at the time of writing.
TV naturalist Chris Packham said it is ‘cruel beyond belief’ and is calling for Morrisons to sign the Better Chicken Commitment which would mean only slower growing chickens are used.
Other retailers like M&S, Waitrose and KFC are among 240 companies across Europe to commit to stop selling the fast growing birds.
In a statement Morrisons say they have launched a ‘full investigation’ and that they ‘care deeply about animal welfare’.
We care deeply about animal welfare and require all our suppliers to maintain the highest standards. We have asked Cranswick to conduct a full investigation and get back to us.
Cranswick have yet to respond to our requests for comment, but elsewhere the company has said “we take the welfare of chickens at our farms very seriously and it is always our first priority.”
ITV news has not been able to independently verify the footage that came out of the farms. The video is also edited so may not reflect overall conditions the chickens face.
Morrisons claims to “take animal welfare seriously.” However, despite horrific animal suffering in its supply chain, it has refused to sign up to the Better Chicken Commitment. These scientific measures are backed by over 40 animal protection charities from across Europe. Bred to grow so fast their bodies can’t keep up, ‘FrankenChickens’ sold at Morrisons are living lives of misery. It’s time for change. When will Morrisons hold true to their word and take this issue seriously?
BRED TO SUFFER
Birds have been so genetically manipulated that they grow to be three times as large as they would without such invasive tampering — and in less time. This accelerated growth leaves birds crippled under their own weight and causes a myriad of other problems.
TRAPPED IN FILTH
Industrial farming operations house hundreds of thousands of birds inside filthy, windowless sheds. Due to this severe overcrowding, these birds are provided slightly less space than a sheet of paper to live on. Often they are unable to walk and lie in ammonia-laden litter causing sores and respiratory problems.