Campaigners which grouped together after claims that police were keeping injured chickens trapped in an overturned lorry, called the incident “barbaric.”

Around 5,000 chickens, aged around six weeks old, were either severely injured or killed while surviving livestock were “humanely dispatched” following a lorry being overturned and chickens being left trapped inside on Monday (September 30) at 10:00am on the A405 North Orbital Road, Eastbound.

A flash mob gathered after hearing the chickens, which were being transported to a slaughterhouse, were left caged inside the overturned lorry for around seven hours and denied medical assistance despite animal activist volunteers offering the police to help care for the chickens.

What happened after?

Original reports said there may have been 5,000 livestock left trapped and unattended, with later suggestions being 10,000 chickens. Hertfordshire Constabulary have instead logged 5,000 chickens were onboard in the lorry after it was overturned.

Hertfordshire Constabulary have estimated that around 10 to 20 per cent of the chickens onboard died during the collision. A spokesperson said: “The majority of livestock were transferred to a secondary vehicle and the remaining livestock were humanely dispatched at the scene.”

While the group of around fifteen campaigners were gathered near the scene, a 35-year-old woman from Watford was arrested on suspicion of obstructing and assaulting police. She currently remains in police custody.

The driver of the overturned vehicle and his wife who was a passenger were taken to the hospital to be treated after the incident. Police have confirmed that there has been “no driving-related arrests.”

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One of the campaigners at the scene. (Credit: Nathan Louis)

Lucus Maulicino, 23, from High Wycombe, joined the campaigners after hearing the news of the lorry being overturned. While he does not refer to himself as an activist, he attended the scene willing to take some chickens home to care for.

Mr Maulicino said: “When they lifted the lorry, the crates rolled over by the forklift, some of the chickens were being stabbed. Then they were loaded straight onto another lorry.

“Not one, dead or alive, was taken out before they loaded them on. There were more than enough of us there, we could’ve easily captured the chickens if they let them out of the cages for us to take care of them.”

When the lorry was lifted to be turned upright, the cages containing chickens were left inside the vehicle. Many of the cages fell to the floor, crushing some surviving chickens and resulting in further broken limbs, crushed bones and missing wings which Mr Maulicino called "barbaric."

Mr Maulicino added: “I’m incredibly disappointed with the justice system. What I saw was barbaric and torturous. I’m never going to forget what I’ve seen.”

Video: Chicken cages fall out of lorry.  (Credit: Lucus Maulicino)

Among the group hoping to help the chickens, were professional vets and representatives of animal rescue sanctuaries. Police denied these experts to be near the crime scene, and the campaigners were left to hold signs at the roundabout nearby to raise attention.

Were any chickens saved?

Jacqueline Webster, 45, from Enfield, managed to rescue one chicken who was covered in oil. While she remained at the scene until the chickens were transported away, she kept her chicken safe and took it to the vets to assure it was healthy.

Ms Webster is now looking after the chick helping it recover. She said: “They were only babies, the one I have is still making chick noises!”

The animal activist has 50 rescue birds, cats and dogs as part of her constant campaign to help animal welfare.

She is now working with the vets who also attended the scene to write a letter addressing their concerns with the RSPCA welfare officer who was meant to look after the chickens. The campaigners criticised the RSPCA for not intercepting the police investigation and helping the wellbeing of the injured caged chickens.

An RPSCA spokesperson said: "This has been an upsetting and sad incident for all involved. The RSPCA sent officers to the scene to help and we discovered that a majority of the chickens were still in transport crates within the lorry.

“Unloading these crates at the scene could have caused potentially injured chickens to have escaped onto the motorway which would have added further to their distress.

“It's really important that hauliers have contingency plans in place to deal with emergency situations which can compromise animal welfare. This was a particularly complex situation and we would expect the company involved will carry out a review of the incident to see if there are any learning points.”

The spokesperson added: “The RSPCA cares about all animals, including chickens which is why we have been campaigning to raise awareness of the welfare of chicken being reared for meat and encouraging supermarkets to stock more higher welfare options."