Dorset farm suspended from Lion Code after activist filming

20-03-2018 | |
Dorset farm suspended from Lion Code after activist filming
Dorset farm suspended from Lion Code after activist filming

A 500,000-bird colony egg farm at the centre of an undercover filming sting has had 2 of its sheds suspended from the British Lion scheme.

Walston Poultry farm, near Blandford Forum in Dorset, supplies Noble Foods with eggs for its Big & Fresh brand, which is stocked in a number of British supermarkets.

The animal rights organisation Animal Equality says it accessed the farm 4 times between January and March this year to take undercover footage of conditions.

This footage was handed to Dorset Trading Standards and the British Egg Industry Council, which suspended its Lion Code accreditation on 2 sites pending “staff retraining”.

It was also covered in a number of national newspapers, and forms a broader campaign against colony egg production that has seen protestors occupying businesses linked with Noble Foods in particular.

While the activists decry the conditions in the sheds, the suspension hinges on an apparent breach surrounding bird inspections. Animal Equality said it found some hens only checked once over a 4-day period – the legal minimum is once a day.

Failure by stockmen

Mark Williams, chief executive of the BEIC, said: “It is clear that there was a breakdown in what is expected of the stockmen managing these particular houses. We have therefore suspended those houses while retraining takes place and practices are put in place to ensure that there can be no repetition.

“We will only allow the houses to re-enter the Lion scheme when it has demonstrated that practices have improved significantly and, even then, only under special measures which will include an ongoing programme of regular, unannounced audits.”

Mr Williams added the BEIC did not condone the activists’ break in, suggesting it would likely have caused distress to the birds.

Noble Foods was approached for comment.

Jake Davies Freelance Journalist
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