ANIMAL welfare campaigners dressed in butcher outfits staged a protest outside the Morrisons supermarket store in Devizes on Saturday.

They descended on the Escourt Street store over the Bank Holiday weekend to protest about the retailer’s genetically engineered range of chickens.

The protestors displayed images of deformed ‘Frankenchickens’ at 21 stores across the country and demanded their removal from the retailer’s shelves.

The protests come as Morrisons launches a small range of chicken reared to higher welfare standards.

Campaigners condemn this as a ‘cheap’ gesture as the retailer continues to source the vast majority of its chicken meat from intensively farmed Frankenchickens - birds genetically engineered to grow 400 per cent faster than natural.

Last year, undercover filming found ‘monstrous and deformed' chickens collapsing in their own waste on four farms supplying Morrisons’ welfare-assured Butcher’s on Market Street meat label.

On every farm, birds were surrounded by rotting bodies, suffering chemical burns from laying in their own urine and faeces and barely able to spread their wings amidst the crowded conditions.

At the weekend, the 'horrifying' conditions were revealed to Morrisons’ customers in the 21 UK cities and towns.

Parodying the retailer’s ad campaigns, a billboard truck claimed, “there’s nothing good about this chicken.”

Connor Jackson, chief executive officer of Open Cages, said: “For years now Morrisons has sat on their hands and done the absolute minimum possible to improve chicken welfare, whilst pedalling out feel-good marketing campaigns and wearing only the costume of a company that cares about animals.

“Morrisons say they never tolerate malpractice in their supply chain. But as many as 30 per cent of Frankenchickens can barely walk because of painful lameness and deformities.

“Millions of these monstrous birds die from heart attacks because they can’t handle growing 400 per cent faster than natural, millions more have their necks broken to simply put them out of their misery.”

Unlike Morrisons, M&S, Waitrose, KFC and Subway are among hundreds of companies to have pledged to stop selling them.

Morrisons says that procedures are now in place to “significantly reduce” the chances of the problems in the film footage happening in the future.

But experts like the RSPCA agree that these welfare issues will remain. Painful lameness, deformities, and heart attacks are known to be unavoidable for fast-growing chickens.

More than 300 companies across the UK and Europe have signed the ‘Better Chicken Commitment’ (BCC) meaning that by 2026 they will sell only slower-growing chickens reared with far more living space.