A worker for a contract farmer who was raising chickens for Perdue Farms in Richmond County, North Carolina, has been arrested on animal abuse charges. The charges were filed after an undercover video depicting abuse at a broiler farm was posted online by animal rights group Mercy for Animals and presented to authorities by an attorney representing Mercy for Animals.

Throughout the video, Mercy for Animals targets Perdue and in words printed over the footage, questions the company’s commitment to animal welfare.

Perdue Farms stated that it is committed to taking aggressive actions to hold those involved in the abuse accountable, as well as to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“We have seen the video taken by Mercy for Animals on a farm raising chickens for Perdue,” Perdue Farms said in a statement. “We are appalled by the mistreatment and abuse by a contract catching crew and a farm worker shown in the video. We are committed to working with law enforcement to identify everyone involved and hope the Mercy for Animals will cooperate to facilitate those efforts.”

Perdue Farms thanked Mercy for Animals for “uncovering clear animal abuse by an individual on a farm” raising chickens for the company. It also thanked law enforcement officers for taking prompt action against the alleged suspect.

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Perdue vows to keep improving bird welfare

In a statement, Perdue said it shares a common goal with Mercy for Animals in that it wants to prevent animal abuse and improve poultry care.

“We are actively seeking to improve the way we raise chickens,” the company stated. “We recently created a new vice president level position within the company, Chief Animal Welfare Officer and Farm Family Advocate, and appointed Mike Levengood, a 31-year veteran at Perdue, to that position. Mike is leading our efforts to improve animal care and to develop closer relationships with the farmers who care for those animals. We are currently evaluating many of the practices that Mercy for Animals highlights, including lighting and enrichments.

“Going forward, we promise to report on the process and our progress.”