Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s have taken free range eggs from a farm suspended by the RSPCA off their shelves after an animal rights group published footage of rotting corpses, bleeding hens and filthy conditions at the business.
Hoads Farm near Hastings, East Sussex, has faced visits from investigators today after pictures were also distributed that showed an egg packing machine surrounded by piles of smashed eggs.
The major supermarkets, which sell eggs from the farm for around £2 for a box of six, are waiting for the outcome of investigations by themselves, the RSPCA and others before deciding whether to permanently withdraw Hoads Farm eggs from sale.
Hoads Farm near Hastings, East Sussex, has been suspended by RSPCA investigators after rotting corpses, bleeding hens and filthy conditions at the farm were revealed (pictured)
In response, Tesco (pictured), Sainsbury’s and Asda have stopped selling eggs from the farm while a full investigation is carried out
Asda, along with the other major supermarkets, said it had stopped selling eggs from the farm while it investigates the footage
Sainsbury’s also decided to withdraw eggs from Hoads Farm from sale until an investigation had been carried out
In a statement to MailOnline Tesco’s said it was ‘deeply disturbed’ by the ‘unacceptable images’ of chickens at the farm.
‘We expect all brands sold at Tesco to uphold high animal welfare standards and will closely review the results of the investigations into this farm,’ a spokesman said.
Sainsbury’s said in a statement: ‘The welfare of our animals is extremely important. We are investigating these allegations.’
Asda has also confirmed that it has temporarily removed eggs from Hoads Farm from its shelves as it takes animal welfare ‘very seriously’.
All three list eggs from the farm as ‘unavailable’ on their websites. Morrisons, which also sells eggs from the business, is yet to comment.
MailOnline understands that visits to the business were carried out by DEFRA, the RSPCA and the British Code of Practice for Lion Egg today.
Supermarket representatives are expected to visit in the coming days.
They also photographed an egg sorting machine left surrounded by cracked eggs and their contents. RSPCA Assured, which made the decision to suspend the farm, said it was ‘shocked’ and ‘appalled’
DxE activists held a protest at the farm on Monday to draw attention to the conditions. They filmed chickens eating smashed eggs while they visited
A chicken was filmed eating the yolk of a smashed egg at the farm yesterday
RSPCA Assured, which runs the charity’s free range certification scheme, said it was ‘shocked’ and ‘appalled’ by the apparent state of chickens at the farm.
A shocking clip shared exclusively with MailOnline by animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) after they entered the farm yesterday, shows birds at the farm eating their own eggs after they have been cracked on the floor.
And a heartbreaking seven-minute video published last night by the group shows partially decomposed corpses on a barn floor and lying on racks, dirty living spaces and hens with bleeding vents, from which they lay eggs.
One scene shows a bird with a bloodied head and back standing in a corner, while another shows piles of eggs and chicken corpses inside a trailer.
An egg packing machine was also filmed by the group surrounded by smashed eggs with egg yolk spilt across the floor.
Animal rights activists from Direct Action Everywhere filmed dead and partially decomposed birds lying on wire and the floor inside the farm
At least 150 activists from Brighton-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) stormed the farm this morning. They are pictured here surrounded by chickens
Gordon Alexander, Manager at Hoads Farm, told BBC South East tonight that the machine had been filmed during ‘turnaround’ and when there were no chickens at the farm.
He added that the farm was ‘unable to verify’ whether all the footage was filmed at the premises, which has been disputed by the investigators.
‘We created very high welfare for the standards for the welfare of the birds’, he said, ‘so we are horrified that our name is linked with this’.
Hoads Farm produces around 30,000 eggs a day on several premises, including the one filmed by animal rights activists.
Yesterday, at least 150 activists from Brighton-based animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) stormed the farm after publishing a video of conditions there, and demanded action from the authorities.
The activists sat inside chicken enclosures wearing protective gear and were later filmed carrying 50 birds out of the farm. The birds have now been sent to animal sancturies.
Footage of the grim conditions inside the farm was captured by DxE activists during a six-month investigation, which involved several visits, they said.
A dead and decomposing chicken photographed at the farm near Hastings, East Sussex
DxE said they visited the farm several times over a six-month period to investigate it. Pictured above is a mostly decomposed body of a chicken inside one of the barns
Chicken corpses and piles of eggs inside a trailer were also photographed by activists
Hens missing feathers were also seen crammed on perches in the barn while they slept
Photos of birds from the farm, published on Monday night, also show a hen with difficulty walking, another with a deformed face and a third with a curled foot.
RSPCA Assured, which oversees the charity’s certification of free range egg farms and made the decision to suspend the business from the scheme, said yesterday: ‘We are shocked and appalled by this footage and we understand why people are upset.
‘Any allegations of poor welfare issues on RSPCA Assured certified farms are taken extremely seriously, which is why we have suspended the farm’s accreditation while we urgently investigate.’
The RSPCA said it had ‘very serious concerns’ about Hoads Farm after viewing the footage.
‘On any farm, it’s important that any sick or injured animal receives attention quickly and that if any birds die their bodies are removed promptly.
‘We would encourage anyone with concerns about animal suffering to report it to us at the time so we can take swift action.’
During their protest activists took 50 free range layers out of the farm in Hastings
One bird taken from the farm had a facial deformity (left) while another struggled walking (right), posts of birds taken from the farm on social media revealed
A third bird taken from the farm and pictured online had a deformed foot
Describing their visit to the farm, a DxE spokesman said: ‘One night we found a hen huddled in the corner, motionless and shaking.
‘She had blood all over her head. She was in clear pain and shock and hadn’t received any medical attention.’
DxE added that every time they visited they found ‘piles of dead birds in the walkways among living hens’ and hens with bleeding cloacae that they claim were ‘visibly infected’.
Police officers arrived 30 minutes after the activists protested at Hoads Farm was reported but, according to activists, did not intervene.
As well as a protest inside the farm, six other activists locked themselves into heavy chains on the farm’s driveway and were surrounded by more protesters.
The remains of a chicken at the farm. This image was taken by activists. When asked, Hoad Farm said that it complied with high welfare standards
Protesters pictured sitting inside the free range hen house at Hoads Farm in Hastings
At 11am on Monday protesters entered a Sainsbury’s store in Hastings and held up images of the conditions at free range Hoads Farm.
Many members of the public appeared disgusted, they said, but a group of youths responded by throwing chicken nuggets at the protesters.
Hoads Farm claims on its website that it ensures ‘high welfare standards’ using the British Egg Industry Council ‘Lion’ Code.
‘We are constantly striving to ensure that we suppl the freshest and tastiest free range eggs to our customers,’ they said online.
‘This not only means adhering to highest industry standards, but also implementing our own unique standards of quality control.’
Hoads Farm told MailOnline: ‘We are both shocked and saddened at the recent imagery linked to Hoads Farm and have launched a full investigation into all the allegations.
‘The imagery is by no means reflective of the hygiene and welfare standards on any of our farms, in which we are held in high regard. We question both the validity and integrity of the images portrayed.
‘We have had a fully qualified poultry vet visit the site yesterday and raise no concerns, apart from the consequences of the protesters actions.
‘We have also requested an audit from the RSPCA Freedom Foods, which has now been completed and stated “the birds are in good health, with good feather cover”.’