Banbury anti-cruelty protesters plan demo at Morrison's this weekend over sale of 'Frankenchickens'

Campaigners dressed in Morrisons butcher outfits will descend on the retailer’s store in Banbury demanding the removal of all “Frankenchickens” from its shelves.

By Roseanne Edwards
Tuesday, 26th April 2022, 4:22 pm
Specially bred chickens are speed-grown until killed for meat at five weeks old. Some succumb to collapse because their skeletons cannot bear their weight

The silent protest on Saturday, April 30, from 12pm – 1pm at Morrisons, Swan Close Road, Banbury will reveal 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.

Morrisons said this week that the campaigners are targeting a single supermarket in a bid to force others to act. And it assured customers it will never tolerate malpractice in its supply chain.

The campaign is being run by Open Cages and The Humane League UK, the animal welfare charities behind the #morrisonsmisery campaign.

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Growers supplying supermarkets hot-house hundreds of baby chickens at a time in vast sheds

The protests come eight months after Open Cages revealed footage of fast-growing chickens deformed and dying on crowded farms they say are supplying Morrisons’ welfare-assured ‘Butcher’s on Market Street’ meat label. The video, shown on ITV, can be seen here.

Dubbed ‘Frankenchickens’, the animals have been bred to grow 400 per cent faster than natural birds, the campaigners claim.

“Morrisons continues to sell the controversial breeds, despite hundreds of companies such as M&S, KFC and Subway pledging to phase them out,” they said.

The campaigners told the Banbury Guardian that Morrisons recently launched a small range of higher welfare chicken in response to the campaign but they have condemned the move as a ‘cheap gesture while the vast majority of the retailer's chickens remain in cruel conditions’.

A proportion of intensively reared chickens never reach slaughter but die in the rearing sheds

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.

“Eighty 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."

The spokesman said Morrisons believes it is in line with Tesco and Sainsbury by committing to offer a range of chicken adhering to all nine of the Better Chicken Commitment standards.

She said the company believes other supermarkets - except M&S and Waitrose - do not offer this and are therefore behind Morrisons.

This chicken will be less than five weeks old

She said the Better Chicken Commitment campaigners had declared online a decision to change campaign strategy towards putting pressure on one single supermarket – targeting Morrisons - in a bid to oblige other supermarkets to follow.

The Better Chicken Commitment rules can be found here.

The Humane League says: “In recent decades there has been an explosion in the amount of white meat being consumed. In the UK, over 1bn chickens are being raised for meat - the vast majority on factory farms in crowded, often filthy sheds until they are slaughtered at just five weeks old.

“For these five weeks they grow unnaturally fast, causing debilitating injuries. They are bred for profit, so the priority is getting the most breast meat in the shortest time. These young chickens often struggle to walk, because of their weight, and can suffer heart disease due to too much pressure on their organs.”