Hoads Farm, near Rye, has RSPCA membership reinstated following inspection

Hoads Farm, near Rye, has had its RSPCA membership reinstated following an inspection.

Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 10:01 am
Hoads Farm. Picture supplied by DxE Brighton

It had previously had its animal welfare accreditation suspended after activists from Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) stormed the farm, in Northiam Road, Broad Oak, on January 27.

They said the aim of the demonstration was to hold the free-range industry accountable and ‘expose its harsh reality to consumers’ after releasing footage allegedly showing poor conditions and rotting bodies.

Before meeting with the farm’s staff, RSPCA Assured, the ethical food label dedicated to farm animal welfare, suspended Hoads Farm’s accreditation pending a full investigation.

Following that investigation, the RSPCA Assured said the membership has been reinstated but with ‘special measures’, including unannounced visits from specially trained staff.

A spokesman added: “We were shocked and appalled by the video and understand why people were upset.

“Any allegations of poor welfare on RSPCA Assured certified farms are taken extremely seriously. That’s why we immediately suspended the farm, pending investigation, as soon as we were made aware of the video.

“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

“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.

“We are further reassured of the farm’s commitment to hen welfare by the installation of CCTV, to which we have access.”

A spokesman for Hoads Farm said they welcomed the RSPCA’s findings.

In a statement, they added: “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.

“At our instigation, we have also installed a CCTV system within the hen house, which we have given the RSPCA full access to. We are working up plans to make this available to the wider public, which will create a unique window into the daily life of our hens.

“The British egg industry operates to very high standards that Hoads Farm strives to not only meet but, wherever possible, exceed.”