Sussex

Hoads Farm: Probed hen farm's RSPCA membership reinstated

Activists at the egg farm Image copyright DXE_Brighton
Image caption About 150 activists had occupied Hoads Farm in East Sussex

A Sussex egg farm targeted by activists has had its RSPCA membership reinstated following an investigation.

Hoads Farm, near Hastings, was stormed by activists last month with footage allegedly showing ill birds and rotting bodies.

RSPCA Assured suspended the farm's membership before meeting with staff and management to address concerns.

The farm will be subject to three unannounced visits and has installed CCTV which RSPCA Assured has access to.

Yorkshire Farmhouse Eggs, who run Hoads Farm, has been contacted for a comment.

Supermarket giants including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury's boycotted free range eggs from the farm in the wake of footage which emerged during a protest carried out by 150 activists from Direct Action Everywhere.

'Special measures'

During the protest on 27 January the activists made off with 50 "liberated" chickens in their arms.

A spokesman for RSPCA Assured said: "We have carried out a thorough investigation over the past three-and-a-half weeks, which included multiple visits to the farm and extensive interviews with the staff and management.

"Following our investigation, we have reinstated the farm's membership but with special measures. These include three unannounced visits from our specially trained staff within the next six months."

The spokesman added: "We are pleased that the farm has taken on board all of our concerns and fully addressed all of the problems identified. Our specially trained assessors are satisfied that the RSPCA's strict standards are now being met, and the current flock of hens is in good health."

'Egg collections'

A spokesman for Hoads Farm said: "Following rigorous inspections by officials from DEFRA and the RSPCA, we are pleased to confirm that egg collections have resumed at the hen house.

"We were happy to welcome the RSPCA in to look at our hens, and at the time we were told they found them in good health.

"DEFRA also visited the site with an independent vet, and similarly told us they could not find any issues with our birds, and were happy with both their condition and the egg production unit.

"The welfare of our birds is, and has always been, our number one priority, and this will continue to be the case."

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