These are brutal images that are causing an international sensation: animal rights activists from the Italian movement "Equalia", a partner organization of the German "SOKO Tierschutz", have managed to film on a farm belonging to the largest Italian poultry producer "AIA" near Verona.
The pictures initially only show a sea of white broilers. On closer inspection, however, it is noticeable that many of the living animals are dead, flattened and rotting away on the litter. Chickens eat the dead, they also peck at each other. A form of cannibalism. Others can no longer stand properly, fall over, can no longer walk. Younger animals sit clamped dead next to the feeding troughs. And then there is also an employee who keeps wringing the necks of injured animals. They then struggle to survive in a basket for a while before they finally die a few minutes later.
Friedrich Mülln from "SOKO Tierschutz" sent the recordings to SWR. For him, the conditions documented here are no surprise. "Chicken meat from factory farming is a product of animal cruelty, whether from Germany or Italy. Apparently, some supermarket groups think that the good image of Italy and its cuisine can distract from the suffering of broiler chickens," says Mülln.
Image campaign comes to nothing
In fact, the recordings are a surprise insofar as the poultry company "AIA" is trying to sell itself with an absolutely positive image, an Italian dolce vita attitude towards life. The company writes on its website:
"Usual Madness in the Poultry Industry"
The Baden-Württemberg animal welfare officer Julia Stubenbord describes the documented conditions to the SWR as the "usual madness in the poultry industry". Due to the rapid growth, the pectoral muscle is too large to be ready for slaughter in just 30-35 days. Due to the system, there are therefore postural defects and behavioral disorders in the animals.
Cannibalism can also be observed among young animals. Some were very badly injured and had extensive wounds. Injured animals must be isolated. This cannot be seen here. Dead animals would also have to be removed daily. Employees should also go through daily to separate injured chickens and remove dead ones. However, the pictures show that this is not done sufficiently.
The recordings also showed that animals were being killed. However, if they were fully conscious, their necks would simply be wrung. According to European animal protection standards, however, such an emergency kill would have to be done by a blow to the head. In this respect, the identified abuses are to be described as unlawful.
Is it all just a one-off?
The SWR also confronted the Italian poultry group with the recordings. The answer: "Should it (…) turn out that the farmer recorded in the video is a supplier of our supply chain, we will immediately take the necessary measures, since such procedures are unacceptable in our supply chain and should not find a place."
The group's chicken meat products are also offered through German supermarket chains. "Real", "Penny", "Rewe" and "Edeka" have the goods in their range. Sometimes it is even sold under the animal welfare label "Category 2". The SWR therefore presented the recordings to the food companies and asked them to comment.
Supermarket chains are concerned
The Rewe Group writes:
The comment of the Edeka press team:
As the SWR has now learned from the Italian animal rights group, the name of the farm was made public last week.