October 5, 2020
Tesco chicken supplier implicated in poor animal welfare allegation
Beauchamp Farm, a farm which is based in Gloucester, the United Kingdom, and supplies chicken to Tesco, has been thrown into the public spotlight over allegations of poor animal welfare.
This came after animal welfare charity Open Cages released a footage showing lame chickens unable to walk or even stand up, as a result of being bred to full size within five to six weeks. The organisation asserted that rapid growth puts chickens at risk of dehydration, starvation and sudden death.
In response, Tesco said that it has started investigation into the farm. The farm's owner, Avara Foods -- the biggest chicken supplier in the UK -- argued that the video showed an "overwhelming majority" of the birds there are clean and healthy.
However, the video revealed "multiple chickens with severe lameness, and who are most likely experiencing very substantial pain, and stress associated with impeded ability to move," said Professor Andrew Knight, a veterinary professor at the University of Winchester.
"Due to their unnaturally rapid growth, the development of legs and joints often fails to keep up, resulting in difficulties supporting increasingly heavy body weight, substantial mobility problems and, very probably, high levels of chronic pain in the final weeks of life."
A spokesperson from Avara Foods said: "The farm underwent and passed a red tractor audit and an Avara Foods internal audit prior to the footage being released. A further internal investigation was completed which didn't highlight any welfare concerns."
The spokeperson also claimed the video has been edited to focus "on a handful of atypical birds that are either ill or have a natural deformity, neither of which are necessarily an indication of poor welfare standards or that the farm requires censure."
"Any bird found to be unwell or struggling during regular flock inspections is monitored," they added. "Bird welfare is of the highest importance for Avara, and any allegations of low standards are throughly investigated."
"Independent audits of the farm found that all assurance scheme and legislative requirements were being met but we are continuing to monitor compliance against our own stringent welfare standards," a Tesco spokesperson said.
- Gloucestershire Live