By Adam Heppell
Moy Park’s Lincolnshire slaughterhouse has been issued with fines totalling £118,420 after admitting four counts of causing unnecessary distress and pain to chickens.
The largest poultry meat producer in Northern Ireland, which employs 800 farmers and has 35 million chickens on the ground at any given time, was fined for a series of offences, dating back more than 12 months.
On June 7 last year, 518 chickens were found to be dead on arrival, and the company was fined £33,500 for violating the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing Regulations 2015.
Moy Park was also fined for failing to adhere to its own standard operating procedures after a delay in advising the official veterinarian of the deceased birds and failed to present 10 dead birds for a post-mortem. This, again, violated the Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing regulations, and resulted in a £16,750 fine.
A further prosecution was brought after some animals were left trapped and crushed when two modules containing livestock tipped over, trapping necks and wings between crates on November 29, leading to a further fine of £33,500.
And a final fine of £33,500 was issued after an incident in December, when 315 living birds were sprayed with pressurised water jets and disinfectant.
A Moy Park spokesperson has promised a swift response. They said: “These incidents, which were a result of a mechanical malfunction and a breakdown in procedures, are not acceptable to us.
“We have introduced new procedures and training for employees. The automated systems we have invested in are widely recognised as delivering significantly higher animal welfare benefits than standard manual systems.
“We sincerely believe that the new measures we have in place today will help us to achieve our aim of providing the optimum welfare conditions for our birds at every stage in their life and development.”
Moy Park pleaded guilty to all the offences and was ordered to pay £70 surcharges to fund victim services, and court costs totalling a further £1,100.