“Carnage” as millions of farm chickens die in sweltering sheds during record heatwave

“Carnage” as millions of farm chickens die in sweltering sheds during record heatwave

“Carnage” as millions of farm chickens die in sweltering sheds during record heatwave

Chicken shed workers say they experienced flashbacks after watching birds die in extreme heat (The Independent)

Chicken shed workers say they experienced flashbacks after watching birds die in extreme heat (The Independent)

Millions of farm chickens died during the record heatwave, as industry whistleblowers said little was done to protect them from lethal temperatures. The independent he learned.

The birds – confined to industrial farm sheds – suffered from temperatures as high as 45 ° C and died slowly from heat exhaustion, it was claimed.

Some large manufacturers have made little or no effort to relieve heat pressure on animals, insiders said on condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs.

The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was “deeply concerned” about the matter and that the extent of the mortality had prompted investigations by officials.

The temperature in some industrial chicken sheds left the birds flapping and panting as they died, according to witnesses.

Bird droppings, of which there was more than usual due to diarrhea – a warning sign of heat stress – made the sheds even warmer, they said.

A worker from the shed said The independent that the birds were simply “left to die in the heat” and “wiped out” as a cost rather than investing in mitigation measures such as better ventilation.

A second, who works at another major manufacturer, described the operations there as “carnage” and said they felt the company could have taken more steps to help improve animal welfare.

They said they were experiencing flashbacks from the “grand scale and the stench of corpses” of the chickens that died during the heat wave.

“I often notice that all of a sudden I start crying and shaking,” they said.

Among those affected by the issue at the industry level were the manufacturing sites of Moy Park and Hook 2 Sisters Ltd. Both companies declined to comment and reported The independent to their industry body, the British Poultry Council (BPC).

Richard Griffiths, chief executive of the BPC, said in a written statement: “Unfortunately, extreme temperatures have led to very high mortality events in some poultry farms.

“The industry has worked closely with Defra and other government agencies to support farmers at this devastating time and determine how farms can be quickly cleared and birds safely eliminated.”

He added: “There are mitigation measures to maintain the health and welfare of the birds. As in the case of other sectors, we are urging all poultry keepers to pursue these measures to cope with extraordinary long-term weather conditions. “

However, it’s not the first time the heat has caused mass mortality in UK-based poultry producers.

In 2019, workers at a Moy Park farm in Kettlethorpe, Lincolnshire reported thousands of birds dead during a heat wave.

At the time, Moy Park said in a statement that it had “implemented procedures to help protect our birds from extreme heat.”

The extent of the recent bird deaths prompted a joint investigation by a remote agency, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, and the local government.

A spokesperson for Defra said in a statement: “It is vital that the health and welfare of animals are protected and we are deeply concerned about the recent mortality of chickens.

“The Animal and Plant Health Agency is working to support local authorities in investigating what has happened and in taking any further appropriate action.”

Animal rights organizations said they are aware of the mass deaths among birds that in their final weeks have on average less space than an A4 sheet of paper to live in.

The extreme weather has put pressure on livestock across the UK, several farmers said The independent.

Two said that while some farmers have spent a lot of money trying to reduce the damage to animals caused by extreme heat, others – in some cases larger producers with deeper pockets – have not.

James Mottershead, chair of the poultry board of directors at the National Farmers’ Union, said, “As a poultry producer, our number one priority is always the health and welfare of our birds.

“Just like other sectors and industries, we have faced record-breaking extraordinary weather conditions. Although we have systems on the farm to regulate the temperature inside chicken coops, the recent extreme weather has overwhelmed some of them.

“It is truly devastating to witness bird mortality and breeders continue to do everything they can to care for their birds during these unprecedented extreme temperatures.”

Abigail Penny, executive director of the Animal Equality organization, said the latest cases are far from unique and that the industrial farm giants have not prepared themselves to prevent mass deaths.

“While the rest of the UK has stood still, avoiding public transport and the scorching sun, the meat industry has failed to act. This “normal” approach in a national emergency has literally cooked hundreds of thousands of chickens to death, “she said.

Each chicken has suffered a painful, prolonged and totally preventable death, he said, adding, “The sad irony is that animal agriculture is a driving force behind these heatwaves and other deadly effects of climate change. The meat industry is a major cause of overuse of land and water, pollution, deforestation, species extinction, and antibiotic resistance.

“More heat waves are on the way. How many animals have to boil alive? “

An RSPCA spokesperson said anyone who fails to meet the needs of animals in their care could face prosecution in court following an investigation by the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

The spokesman added that it was “incredibly shocking to hear about the deaths of these birds: all animals are sentient beings who deserve to be protected from pain and suffering.”

Such mass mortality events are much more likely in intensive farming sheds used for broilers, according to the charity, as projects are older and ventilation may be poorer.

“Factory farming operates with such speed and with small margins of error that any change, such as rising temperatures, can have devastating impacts on animal welfare. This is another reason why we are eager to see a move away from intensive farming practices, ”said the spokesperson for the RSPCA.

Connor Jackson, chief executive of the animal rights organization Open Cages, said he had heard of the heatwave “carnage”.

“These farms should have ventilation systems, but they clearly aren’t enough,” he said.

“Even with better technology, these weak birds will continue to be crammed into hot metal boxes in the countryside every summer.

“In a typical chicken farm, birds have on average less space than an A4 sheet of paper in recent weeks. Intensive farming practices like this exist so that supermarkets can keep meat as cheap as possible, but customers aren’t told even these most basic facts.

“Until large UK retailers sign the Better Chicken Commitment and move away from factory farming practices, millions of animals will continue to suffer from the heat and the myriad of other welfare problems imposed on them for meat. cheap”.

Hook 2 Sisters is partial ownership of 2 Sisters Food Group Ltd according to Companies’ House. 2 Sisters Food Group’s website lists a number of major supermarkets as customers on its website including Aldi, Asda, Co-op, KFC, Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco. Several did not respond to a request for comment, while Co-op, Ocado and Sainsbury’s declined to comment and referred The independent to the British Poultry Council (BPC).

A Waitrose spokesperson said it was not supplied by Hook 2 Sisters, and although Moy Park works some of its chickens, its farm oversight processes in its supply chains have shown no concern for welfare.

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