Animal welfare protests at Reading Morrisons over ‘cruel conditions’ for supermarket-sold chickens

Campaigners will dress up as butchers to protest against a supermarket giant’s decision to sell chicken kept in “cruel conditions”. Animal welfare groups Open Cages and The Humane League UK are calling on Morrisons to cease selling breeds of chicken they say are suffering.

Protests are taking place across the country, with demonstrations outside the Morrisons store in Basingstoke Road, Reading on Saturday, April 30. Those in attendance will be demanding the removal of so-called ‘Frankenchickens’ from Morrisons stores.

The silent protest will take place in more than 20 cities and towns across the UK. The two charities are behind the #morrisonsmisery campaign, which highlights cruelty at farms that supply chicken to the supermarket.

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However, Morrisons has defended its record on animal welfare. A spokesperson said it “actively monitors” malpractice.

The protests will be held for an hour from 12pm. An Open Cages spokesperson said: “Campaigners dressed in Morrisons butcher outfits will descend on the retailer’s store in Reading demanding the removal of all ‘Frankenchickens’ from its shelves.

“A silent protest will reveal shocking images from the supermarket’s chicken farms with placards and information for customers. It will coincide with Morrisons-targeted demonstrations in more than 20 cities and towns across the country.

“The protests come eight months after Open Cages revealed footage of fast-growing chickens deformed and dying on crowded farms supplying Morrisons’ welfare-assured ‘Butcher’s on Market Street’ meat label. Dubbed ‘Frankenchickens’, the animals have been bred to grow 400% faster than natural.

“Morrisons continues to sell the controversial breeds, despite hundreds of companies such as M&S, KFC and Subway pledging to phase them out. Morrisons recently launched a small range of higher welfare chicken in response to the campaign, but this move is being condemned by campaigners as a ‘cheap gesture’ whilst the vast majority of the retailer’s chickens remain in cruel conditions.”

A Morrisons spokeswoman said: “We care deeply about animal welfare. All our regular chicken is raised to above Red Tractor standards; we are also the only retailer in Europe to ask our fresh chicken suppliers to require chicken to be born into the barn in which it will be raised by 2025.

“80 per cent of our fresh chicken meets this standard already. We also actively monitor for any malpractice in our supply chain; we will never tolerate it or look the other way and if we ever find it, we will act swiftly and decisively.”

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