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Video shows ‘revolting’ conditions at free range farm

14 March 2016

A free range egg campaigner has been accused of keeping thousands of chickens in “revolting” conditions.

A video shot released by newspapers this weekend purported to show 16,000 hens kept in a shed at the Norfolk’s Hillside Animal Sanctuary.

The farm is owned by UKIP MEP and agriculture spokesman Stuart Agnew, who has campaigned for an EU free of battery farm eggs. 

The eggs from Agnew’s farm are free range and are reported to be supplied to Noble Foods. A spokesman for the company was not immediately available for comment. 

The video, taken by a ‘volunteer’ was published by the Mail on Sunday

The volunteer said the chickens were in in a poor state: “Many were bald. The ones I examined were covered in mites, some with sores. Several had wounds the others pecked. It was a revolting sight.”

Mr Agnew said the video was taken while the flock was being treated by a vet for enteritis. 

“The pictures, which appear to be cleverly choreographed by the activists, were sent to a journalist, who, on 20th January, sent them to the RSPCA,” he said in a statement

“Within a few hours of receipt, the RSPCA arrived unannounced on my farm for an immediate audit and inspection. I was absent, but my staff were present.

“Our records, birds and farm premises were closely inspected. Our records demonstrated that the flock was under veterinary treatment for a feather loss problem that started the previous August with a condition known as enteritis.”

Marc Cooper, the RSPCA’s head of farm animals, said the animals “looked bright”.

He said: “The filming was done at night when the ‘pop holes’ through which the birds gain access to the outside were closed.”

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