A farm without daylight, a complex full of corpses amidst live chickens, a dump full of worms and a “chicken cannon”… two million chickens are raised each year in eight buildings. The place belongs to the agri-food group LDC, which notably owns the Le Gaulois and Maître Coq brands.
“When you see the pubs of Le Gaulois, with dancing chickens, green meadows, people happy to eat chicken, and when you compare it to the reality of agriculture, it is still quite shocking,” chastises Léo Le Ster, research referent for L214. Chickens are animals that live in their brood their entire lives, for 35 days or more, and even in that short period of time they still have time to develop health problems and heart problems. Some have heart attacks or sudden death and there are many who can’t stand because the upper body is growing too fast for the lower body.”
L214’s investigation reveals that Limet EARL “uses a fast-growing lineage of chickens, which in itself constitutes maltreatment. The genetic characteristics of Ross 308 chickens inevitably lead to animal health and suffering.” A strain excluded from the European Chicken Commitment, a reference system supported by several dozen associations that has established a complete list of breeding rules to respect. L214 also recalls that the decree of October 25, 1982 on the creation, maintenance and detention of animals, “must not cause, due to their genotypic or phenotypic characteristics, any avoidable suffering, nor any harmful effect on their health”.
However, the images collected by the L214 show just the opposite. In particular, they mention the existence of a “chicken cannon”, a machine that sucks in chickens from one side before ejecting them from the other at high speed. Thus, other images show animals in agony or suffering from stereotypies (repetitive gestures due to boredom or brain dysfunction).
A violation of sanitary principles is also pointed out, especially with regard to the removal of chicken carcasses. Some throw it on the ground among other live chickens, while the garbage bin, the bins in which corpses are placed, is overflowing with worms.
Complaint and Petition
L214 filed a complaint with the prosecutor of Laval for mistreatment against the EARL du Limet, the operator, the veterinarian, the livestock technician and against the LDC group. “These new images demonstrate once again that the LDC group is completely indifferent to the suffering of animals,” Brigitte Gothière, co-founder of L214, said in a press release.
When contacted, LDC responded on Thursday afternoon to the broadcast of the L214 video: “We are seeing once again that through us, it is all French creation that is targeted. The deja-vu edition of this video clearly intends to impose the cessation da Não reflects the reality of what creators do every day and we regret the untruths this video conveys.”
On Thursday, the L214 association also met in Sablé-sur-Sarthe, where the LDC is based, to distribute leaflets and sign a petition calling on the group to take action against the worst intensive farming methods. “It’s not even a question of transparency, nor are we there. It’s a structural, systemic problem, but against which we have solutions, continues Léo Le Ster. We’ve been talking to LDC since 2018 to explain to the group that we must end these practices and commit to respecting the criteria of the European Chicken Commitment (ECC). It is necessary to end the crowding on the farms, where you can’t even distinguish a chicken from the pasta. There are up to 22 per square meter. You also need natural light, perches, pecking and, above all, 20% of the open air”.
“Ultra-reasonable” orders that have already been accepted by a hundred companies, including all supermarkets, including for low-cost poultry ranges, Subways or Dominos Pizza. “Le Gaulois and Maître Coq present themselves as qualitative, but their creation is indefensible”, says Léo Le Ster.
LDC, however, believes that it respects the ECC’s commitments. “We explained to them [ce jeudi] once again, the steps we are taking through Nature d’Éleveurs and Oui C’est Bon largely correspond to the ECC (European Chicken Commitment) criteria. We are in a process of continuous improvement to respect our commitment to 100% of our farms engaged in these sustainable improvement approaches by 2025”, defends the group.
The Limet website has already been pinned
The Limet breeding complex, however, has already been highlighted in the past: in 2012, the Mayenne municipality warned him for exceeding the number of authorized chickens and not respecting the spreading distances in relation to the water catchment points. That didn’t stop EARL du Limet from extending its license to operate to 330,000 animals in 2014, then 360,000 in 2016.
And LDC had already been implicated in L214 in 2018, when the association revealed the living conditions of chickens on a Maître Coq farm that serves as a training ground for BTS Animal Production students. “LDC is the European leader in chickens. It is a very successful company, there is no excuse, they have the power to make a difference for hundreds of millions of animals”, concludes Leo Le Ster.