Animal rights organisation Animal Aid has circulated “undercover footage” from broiler and egg production sites in an attempt to undermine planning applications from those looking to expand.
The organisation this week issued a press release and video in response to a planning application by Yorkshire based H Barker and Son, showing what it described as “distressing scenes of animal suffering” on another of the company’s farms.
According to Animal Aid, this included birds with missing feathers and sore skin, birds with hock burns and birds “collapsing under their excessive body weight”.
The press release then attacks the planning application for a further six sheds at another location, suggesting this will present a “serious health and safety risk”, both to humans and the environment.
Animal Aid then invites people to object to the application by clicking on a link, which takes them through to a pro-forma objection letter to City of York Council.
Poultry World contacted Mr Barker, who was initially unaware of the video. He declined to comment but a respected poultry vet, who asked to remain anonymous, told Poultry World that, while there was some sign of contact dermatitis, the feather cover was normal for birds of that age and the birds were merely sitting down, not collapsing under their own weight.
Animal Aid told Poultry World the video had been also sent to City of York Council and would be emailed to its 29,000-member database shortly.
In a separate incident, Animal Aid put out another press release claiming victory in getting egg packer Fridays to withdraw a planning application for a new 64,000-bird free-range unit in Kent.
The organisation said the decision to pull the application was taken just two days after it had provided Tunbridge Wells Borough Council with footage taken from a Fridays’ colony cage unit. This showed birds with poor feather cover and scratch mats covered in faeces.
“Although no reason has been provided for the application being withdrawn, Animal Aid is confident that its investigation was a decisive factor,” said a statement.
But Fridays dismissed the video saying that “whilst we cannot confirm whether the footage is from our sites, we do not recognise it as representative of our farms.
“All of our sites are inspected by independent veterinary services, Defra, and the British Egg Industry Council to ensure our hens are kept to high welfare standards.
“In response to the video, we commissioned inspections by an independent veterinarian this week. His report found that these standards are being upheld.”
Fridays added that the footage was not of a free-range facility and therefore had no connection with its proposed development at Horsmonden.
“There is also no connection between the timing of the withdrawal of the Horsmonden application and the video.
“The application was withdrawn following discussions with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council regarding the further technical information they wish to see provided. We will be considering a new application at a later date.”
Animal Aid campaign manager Isobel Hutchinson said that opposing planning applications was part of the organisation’s wider campaign to counter intensive food production.