IT is good news that chicken welfare has made the headlines recently, but it is still depressing that the vast majority of the 860 million chickens killed for meat each year in this country still are still factory farmed.

Crammed into foul-smelling windowless sheds and kept together in huge numbers, each bird is allowed an area no bigger than an A4 sheet of paper.

What is even more shocking is that now a major supermarket is selling chickens at £1.99 each - that is even less than a take out tea or coffee. For a supposed nation of animal lovers, that is a sad indictment of our attitude to the welfare of animals.

Campaigning animal group Viva! has filmed undercover inside broiler chicken farms and revealed shocking conditions as standard.

Piled up outside the sheds on one farm were dead and rotting chickens.

Inside the shed, investigators found dead and dying birds being trampled on and pecked by living ones. Some birds were so severely deformed that they were unable to stand or walk and their feet were splayed out to the sides of their bodies.

Chickens are selectively bred and pumped full of drugs to keep them alive.

Today's chickens are slaughtered when they still cheep' at just six weeks - chicks in an obese adult body. By the time they are killed, many of them are crippled as their legs cannot support their body weight.

Some lame birds die from starvation and dehydration as they are unable to reach food and water points.

A government investigation released this month found that 25 per cent of broiler chickens have difficulty walking - that is over 200 million a year in chronic pain.

Yet factory farming is perfectly legal and artificially cheap prices encourage even more misery for chickens.

Even free-range and organic chickens die early, and all suffer an unnaturally barbaric death at the slaughterhouse.

We can all do our bit to end this suffering by not eating chicken and opting for a veggie diet. For a free veggie recipe pack call Viva! on: 0117 944 1000 or write to 8 York Court, Wilder St, Bristol BS2 8QH or visit

JUSTIN KERSWELL, campaigns manager, Viva!