In a UK-first, Animal Justice Project has infiltrated the violent nocturnal world of chicken catching ‘gangs’ run by ‘chicken processing specialists’ AD Harvey.
Our latest investigation, which broke in the Mail Online and has now been published in the Daily Mail, The Mirror, the Daily Express and many other online publications, delves deep into a dark underworld of violence, intimidation and abuse – all certified by the so-called ‘higher welfare’ assurance scheme RSPCA Assured.
Our undercover investigator embedded themself with ‘catching gangs’, as they are known in the industry. These gangs arrive at farms, of all levels of ‘welfare’, from caged to free-range, to catch, transport and slaughter hens at ‘the end of lay’. This is when their egg production has dropped and they’re considered useless to the industry. Discarded and killed as their bodies grow weaker.
After a short, miserable life imprisoned in cages or crowded sheds, their last hours are spent in fear, panic and distress as they endure a violent process known as ‘depopulation’.
We filmed every stage of the catching process, from workers pushing, kicking and throwing hens down from their perches, to workers grabbing and carrying excessive numbers of hens upside down by one leg. Hens were then violently rammed into crates; the drawers were slammed shut onto their protruding limbs, wings and heads, causing untold suffering
Workers used intimidation, force and aggression towards these delicate birds, including stamping on them and hitting them with crates and feeders. Many hens didn’t survive this violent treatment. Others were left injured and stunned.
Once again, we have exposed another example of casual cruelty and flippant violence endorsed by an RSPCA Assured company. This follows our existing exposés of RSPCA Assured facilities including ‘slower growing’ chickens and ‘high welfare’ pig farms and transportation.
What we filmed not only violated the rights of these beautiful birds but flagrantly breached both RSPCA and government guidelines. Oliver Harvey, the Catching Manager and grandson of the company’s Founder, is even documented teaching the investigator to breach guidelines by carrying four birds in each hand by one leg (when the guidance states a maximum of three birds in each hand carried by both legs!)
In light of the abhorrent abuse that we have uncovered against hens by AD Harvey, we are demanding that RSPCA Assured drop AD Harvey from their assurance scheme permanently.
For the animals.