In December of last year, YouTuber Niko Omilana shot a video called “Behind the Bucket,” appearing to show happy birds at a farm that sells chickens to KFC.
The video, shared on Twitter by media site Joe, shows the chickens wandering freely in a well-heated shed filled with straw and enrichment activities including a swing.
“Tony’s really opened my eyes today about how seriously KFC take chicken welfare,” Omilana said at the end of the video, referring to the farmer he interviewed in the film.
However, an undercover investigation funded by vegan food company VFC appears to reveal that the first video was pure greenwashing. The second video, shared on Youtube Tuesday, shows much more crowded conditions, dirty straw and dead and injured birds lying on the floor. https://www.youtube.com/embed/b6A1kWnEfqk?feature=oembed
“This is the most disingenuous marketing campaign we have seen for a long time,” VFC co-founder Matthew Glover said, as The Guardian reported. “This portrayal of chicken farming is utterly misleading and seeks to reassure the public that all is well, when nothing could be further from the truth.”
VFC located the exact farm in the video in Kettlethorpe, Lincoln in the UK. The farm is run by Moy Park, which is one of the main poultry farms in Europe, according to The Guardian.
One major difference between the two videos is the age of the chickens when filming took place. In Omilana’s video, the chickens were 15 to 20 days old. In VFC’s investigatory video, however, the birds were 33 days old and the 52,000 birds in the shed appeared much more tightly crowded.
Reviewing the footage, Professor Andrew Knight of the University of Winchester’s Center for Animal Welfare told The Guardian that the birds were kept at “very high stocking density, within a vast shed, which included little to no environmental enrichment.”
In the earlier video, Omilana and Tony debunked the claim that chickens are pumped full of steroids to make them larger. However, the VFC video showed birds who were lying on the ground because their skeletons could not support their weight. This wasn’t because of steroids, the video said, but rather selective breeding over time for plumper chickens.
The VFC video also found dead birds on the floor of the shed, as well as bins filled with dead chickens in the back. It noted that KFC considers it acceptable for four to five percent of birds to die during raising, which would amount to 2,000 – 2,500 birds in the barn.
In response to the investigation, both KFC and Moy Farm emphasized their commitment to animal welfare.
“We take the welfare of the chickens in our supply chain extremely seriously. We will continue to work with Moy Park to ensure these standards are being met and we will continue to drive transparency, which is an important part of our welfare work – removing misconceptions and ensuring accountability across the industry,” the company said, as The Guardian reported.
Moy Farm said that it had reviewed the footage and sought independent audits and opinions from veterinarians.
“This farm is managed to a very high standard and our preliminary findings show that it is meeting those standards,” a Moy Farm spokesperson told The Guardian. “The birds are displaying natural behaviours and the farm adheres to all stocking, enrichment and welfare requirements.”
However, in the video, VFC argued that Moy Park was not an egregious exception, but rather a typical example of the problems with factory farming overall.
“Tony’s farm is one of the best,” the video’s narrator said. “That’s why KFC came and filmed here. So you can imagine what the rest are like. KFC needs to commit to moving away from intensive factory farming of chickens like this, and work on a kinder, more sustainable, plant-based chicken commitment.”