Oakham chicken

Marks & Spencer has suspended supplies of chicken from two of its farms over allegations of cruelty.

The retailer said it was “disappointed” to see images and video of poor conditions at the poultry farms this week by animal welfare group Peta, which claimed a broiler house in Cambridgeshire and another in Norfolk were keeping birds in “excruciating, nightmarish conditions”.

Birds sold under the Oakham brand were found by Peta activists to be “packed among rotting corpses so tightly they can barely spread a wing”, the group said, despite M&S’s claim it provided the animals with an enriched environment.

Stressed birds also struggled to stand up in undercover footage filmed by the group, leading many to have trouble reaching water, it claimed.

“The conditions endured by these chickens supplied to Marks & Spencer show that it doesn’t matter which brand you buy or what label you put on it - meat comes from agony,” said Peta director Elisa Allen.

“We are very disappointed to see the images and take this issue very seriously,” said an M&S spokeswoman.

“As an immediate action we have suspended supply from these farms while we investigate this thoroughly. We work hard to uphold higher welfare standards, which is recognised by leading animal charities. We’ll take all necessary steps to ensure these standards are maintained,” she added.

“We’re thoroughly investigating this at the moment and have nothing further to add at this point.”