AR-News: Chicken Factory Farm Exposed

Pat Wolff wolffnm at
Sun Aug 31 07:53:35 EDT 2003

Aug 31 2003
Sunday Mirror, UK

Desperate birds peck at carcasses as thousands
struggle to survive
By Martin Coutts
SOME birds are so lame and deformed they can only drag
themselves to the food and water troughs by their
wings. Others stand motionless, too dazed or dying to

There are more than 36,000 chickens here in huge
windowless sheds. The conditions they have to endure
during their short, brutal lives are so horrific it
defies belief.

Today the Sunday Mirror reveals the sickening reality
of one factory farm which lies hidden beneath the
cheerful image of the KFC fast-food chain, with its
slogans "Finger Lickin' Good" and "Nobody Does Chicken
Like KFC".

Undercover investigators went behind the scenes at
Wrawby Farm, near Scunthorpe, North Lincs. Its owners,
P D Hook (Broilers) Ltd, are contracted by Premier
Fresh Foods, part of the huge 2 Sisters Food Group, to
supply chickens that end up at KFC outlets and stores
such as Tesco and Kwik Save.

KFC were so impressed by 2 Sisters' service that they
made them their Supplier Of The Year in 2001. And 2
Sisters, who have an annual turnover of £50million,
even boast of receiving RSPCA awards for their
"outstanding contribution to animal welfare".

But our investigation at Wrawby Farm painted a
different picture - one of cruelty and neglect.

In one shed where chickens had been taken away for
slaughter there were dozens of carcasses littering the
floor. In another - where scores of birds had died -
their remains were being picked over by other

The findings will shock KFC, who have 500 outlets in
Britain and employ 8,000 people. Originally called
Kentucky Fried Chicken, they are the world's largest
chicken fast-food chain with a worldwide turnover last
year of £4billion. Almost 800million birds were
slaughtered to produce more than two billion chicken
meals for the group last year.

We launched our probe with experts from animal welfare
group the Hillside Animal Sanctuary after a tip-off
about conditions at Wrawby Farm.

One investigator who shot a secret film there said: "I
have investigated animal welfare for many years, but
this easily ranks amongst some of the worst cruelty I
have seen.

"When I went into the sheds I could hardly believe how
crammed-in the birds were. It was difficult to move
among them and the heat was unbearable. There were
lots of dead and dying birds and many were terribly

"The conditions these birds were living in was
inhumane - and if the public saw how they are reared
before ending up on their table then they would be

Our findings come just weeks after animal rights group
People For the Ethical Treatment Of Animals (PETA)
announced they would be suing KFC in the USA.

PETA claims the company's advertising hides "grotesque
abuses inflicted upon chickens by suppliers".

PETA's Director of European Campaigns Sean Gifford
said: "KFC has said from the outset that they will not
allow the animals to feel any pain... in fact every
moment of these animals' lives is characterised by
unmitigated misery.

"People need to understand that if they are eating
chicken, they're supporting cruelty to animals and if
they're eating at KFC, they're supporting a company
that has done nothing to prevent the worst abuses of
chickens on the farm, during transport and at

In the US, PETA researchers found birds destined for
KFC meals grew to full weight - 4lb 8oz - in only 41
days instead of the natural five or six months.

As a result, their heart and lungs came under such
pressure that many died from organ failure.

These chickens are raised in huge sheds where there is
initially plenty of room, but as they grow, conditions
become crowded.

PETA has also demanded that chickens should be killed
by gassing rather than electric stunning.

Last night Hillside Animal Sanctuary echoed PETA's
concerns and called on the Government to take urgent
action. A spokesman said: "The scenes of appalling
neglect we witnessed in these sheds were abhorrently

"As a supplier to such major supermarkets and food
retailers you would expect these farms to be setting
the highest welfare standards - but this farm is like
something from the Dark Ages.

"We would ask the relevant Government department to
take immediate action to put an end to this cruelty.
Factory farming is simply about producing the largest
amount of animals in the shortest amount of time with
animal welfare unimportant."

An RSPCA spokesman said: "We are extremely concerned
at allegations of cruelty at this site. The RSPCA has
for a long time campaigned for improvements to chicken
farming and we would like to see this footage as a
matter of urgency so we can assess it and, if
necessary, investigate these allegations."

Questioned about Wrawby Farm, a KFC spokesperson said:
"Although we only represent a very small part of 2
Sisters Food Group production, we take all welfare
matters very seriously and would take any evidence of
maltreatment as a breach of our contract."

A spokesman for 2 Sisters said: "We take animal
welfare extremely seriously and if there is any
evidence that the required standards have not been met
then we will take immediate remedial action."

A Tesco spokesman said: "We expect the highest
standards from our suppliers and audit them regularly.
We take allegations of this kind seriously and have
already started to investigate them." And a spokesman
for Kwik Save said: "Our fresh meat departments are
run by independent retail concessionaires.

"One such concessionaire has been using this farm to
supply a very small amount of his weekly poultry
requirement. He has now decided not to use the
supplier in the future."

When confronted by the Sunday Mirror, a director of
farm owners PD Hook, Mark Wannell, 37, of Bampton,
Oxfordshire, said: "The company has no comment."

HILLSIDE Animal Sanctuary campaigns for the welfare of
farm animals. Donations to: Hill Top Farm, Hall Lane,
Frettenham, Norwich, NR12 7LT.


BROILER chickens are hatched in giant incubators at
hatcheries across Britain.

At a day old the chicks are stuffed into crates and
taken to windowless rearing sheds.

Each chicken may have little more space than the size
of an A4 sheet of paper.

For the first two weeks the chicks are kept warm using
industrial heat lamps.

At three weeks they are half the size of an adult bird
- growth that should take twice as long.

At 42 days old the birds are taken to a

They are hung upside down, then stunned with an
electric shock and their throats cut.

Some are then put in boiling water to help remove
feathers - and then the carcass is sent to


BEATLES legend and veteran animal rights campaigner
Sir Paul McCartney has called on KFC for an urgent
shake-up of its farming practices.

"If KFC suppliers treated dogs or cats the way they
treat chickens, they could be charged with the crime
of cruelty to animals," he said.

"I would like to see KFC stop allowing chickens to be
drugged, end the starvation of birds, stop burning the
beaks off parent birds and make sure slaughter methods
do not permit animals to be scalded to death.

"I am a vegetarian because I realise that even little
chickens suffer pain and fear. These remarkable
animals are deserving of at least a little kindness."


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