Sick, deformed chickens left in agony… birds unable to eat or drink, flapping around in their own filth… dead bodies black and blue, left to rot. This is what our investigators filmed on several Co-op chicken supplier farms in Lincolnshire.
In a heartbreaking video with Peter Egan published in over 100 news sites including BBC News, Daily Mail, The Independent, we reveal the true horror of the life of a Co-op chicken.
We are demanding that Co-op signs the Better Chicken Commitment to end the suffering of these innocent animals.
Co-op claims to be a leading ethical retailer. Indeed you would not expect that this is what’s happening to their chickens behind closed doors.
In fact, hidden cameras on the farms show hundreds of dead chickens being tossed into maggot infested bins by the workers as they laugh.
Clearly Co-op is not telling the truth to their customers. But this is not only about them.
The footage has fuelled an intense conflict within Co-op over the sale of selectively bred fast growing “Frankenchickens.” 96% of Co-op’s members democratically voted for an end to the practice over animal welfare concerns at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in May but were refused by the board, with the Board Chair Allan Leighton commenting: ‘it costs to do the right thing.’
For Co-op member Aaron Browning, “Watching the undercover footage, seeing the bins overflowing with dead chickens, looking at the birds’ twisted legs and bleary eyes – it makes me ashamed to be a member.”
The motion to stop selling frankenchickens was the only member-led motion at the supermarket’s AGM this year and was supported by animal charity The Humane League UK. It was voted for by over 31,000 members. While Co-op’s leadership has agreed to give its chickens more space, the decision to keep using fast-growing breeds ensures that the animals will still suffer miserable lives.
Co-op member Hannah Dickson said: “The footage makes me appalled that our Co-op has decided to keep profiting from these sick and suffering animals. The membership voted to change the breed – while more space is good, it isn’t good enough when these chickens are dropping dead of organ failure and struggle to walk. The cost of living crisis presents challenges, but these don’t justify blatant animal cruelty. If the Co-op acts ethically only when it’s convenient then they aren’t an ethical supermarket at all.”
Co-op member Aaron Browning adds: “Co-op is unique among supermarkets because of its democratic structure and the fact that millions of its members can have a say in its direction. Yet we told the leadership that we didn’t want sick frankenchickens being sold in Co-op shelves, and they didn’t listen. It makes me ashamed to be a member.”
Fast-growing ‘Frankenchickens’ have been genetically selected over decades to prioritise fast growth and produce as much meat in the shortest possible time. Around 97% of the chicken sold in Co-op is produced this way.
As a result of their rapid growth they can suffer from a wide range of health and welfare issues including heart attacks, organ failure, lameness, bone deformities, muscle diseases and burns.
Crucially, much of the benefits of more space are limited without using slower growing breeds. As summarised by the European Food Safety Authority, “the health and welfare status of [meat chickens] mainly depends on the genetics.”
Over 350 businesses in the UK and EU have committed to the Better Chicken Commitment which prohibits the sale of frankenchickens including major food companies like KFC, Nando’s, Greggs, Marks and Spencer, and Waitrose.
Co-op’s loyal members and customers are being fed a deceptive and misleading fairy tale. These images prove that behind the carefully polished, “ethical” image we all know, sick Frankenchickens are being condemned to lives of unnecessary pain, misery and stress on intensive mega farms. These birds simply grow too fast to lead any sort of decent life.
Make your voice heard. Sign the petition calling on Co-op to stop selling Frankenchickens.