Two million birds have been killed in recent months as Britain experiences its biggest bird flu outbreak in history. But the industry, media and UK Government has shown almost no concern for the actual victims of this disease.
Open Cages has obtained footage of thousands of birds in Lincolnshire being disposed of after they were gassed to death. We are calling on the UK Government to ban factory farming which is ideal for spreading deadly diseases like wildfire.
- The farm in the footage is an intensive caged egg farm owned by LJ Fairburn: a company which produces and packs 17 million eggs a week for UK supermarkets like Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons.
- The farm had bird flu declared Dec 11th and yet was still actively culling Dec 22nd when filmed. There were 9 outbreaks on other farms in the immediate area. Reporting on our footage, BBC Look North estimated that one million birds had been killed in Lincolnshire alone.
- Workers and machinery were filmed on the farm removing many piles of the dead animals into containers, with workers in full hazmat suits collecting heaps of them wheelbarrows. Gassing is the standard form of culling on poultry farms.
- Wheelbarrows of possibly infected birds were left in the open air whilst the workers went on lunch break. Discharge from the birds can be seen in the machinery as dust enters open air. Bird viruses can be present in air samples up to 110 miles from infected farms.
- A 2020 report from Open Cages warned of the catastrophic danger for a pandemic to emerge from the British poultry industry, which could cause the deaths of millions of people.
I have been told by journalists that this footage is “not news.” That’s the problem. These images should shock us more than they do.
Across Britain, two million intelligent, sensitive, sentient individuals have been disposed of like numbers on a spreadsheet. It’s an absolutely horrendous sight.
The ease at which the farming industries cull animal lives shows how little they are valued, no matter how necessary it is to do. We are failing to protect these animals because of our reliance on intensive farming: they should never have been infected in the first place.
Bird flu was once a very rare disease among chickens, but today there are outbreaks occurring every year: this footage helps explain why. When you take tens of thousands of chronically stressed animals and cram them into a filthy indoor facility you create an ideal environment for disease. The more the animals suffer, the more stressed they become, and the less their immune systems can cope. Deadly diseases like bird flu can then emerge easily or give foreign strains the perfect breeding ground.
On a factory farm a virus can spread like wildfire and provide an ideal chance to mutate, especially in highly intensified poultry capitals like Lincolnshire, East Anglia and Herefordshire. It’s no surprise that 9 farms were hit in the immediate area of where this footage was captured. Clearly, biosecurity and mass killing is not solving this problem as it only addresses symptoms which are getting worse and worse. The UK Government must take a step back and consider the root problem: phase out the cruel and dangerous system of factory farming as soon as possible.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu caused the deaths of more than half of those infected. Whilst the strain spreading through Britain is not currently dangerous to humans, the authors of the report warn of mutations which could transfer the virus to a human host via contact with a “vast amount” of biological matter in chicken farming, such as bodily fluids. The 1918 flu pandemic, which killed 50 million people, was thought to have originated in birds.
The footage can be accessed here.
You can help these animals by signing our petition to ban factory farming.