CIWF welfare video sparks poultry farm investigation

AN investigation has begun into the conditions on a poultry farm in Herefordshire after a video was released claiming to show birds living in sub-standard conditions.

The video was taken covertly by animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) on a visit to Uphampton Farm in Leominster, which rears broiler chickens for Sun Valley Foods.

However, since the video was released, the farm has been subject to a spot-check from Assured Farm Standards, organisers of the Red Tractor mark, who have passed the farm as meeting all necessary welfare standards.

Sun Valley Foods, which supplies retailers including McDonalds, Morrisons and Sainsbury, announced that an investigation was now under way into conditions on the farm.

A spokesman for the company said: “Sun Valley Europe takes its responsibilities for animal welfare very seriously.

“The company sources its birds from reputable and experienced farmers who are required to follow detailed and comprehensive welfare management systems.

“When this matter was brought to our attention on January 3, we immediately commenced a thorough investigation, which is still ongoing.”

The video was revealed this week in the Independent newspaper to coincide with high profile campaigns on animal welfare from celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

However, Charles Bourns, chairman of the NFU poultry board, and Peter Bradnock, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, criticised the media this week for blurring the issue.

In a joint statement, they said: “It’s disappointing that once again the British media are referring to chickens reared for meat as ‘battery’ farmed.

“This is completely untrue and our members who look after the national flock are fed up to the back teeth of hearing it repeated.

“Chickens reared for meat in Britain are kept indoors or are free-range – they are never kept in battery cages.

“British poultry meat is produced to high standards which are independently validated and monitored by auditors from outside the industry.”

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