YouTube chicken slaughter was plea for state aid for bankrupt farm

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A bankrupt Russian poultry farm drowned its day-old chicks by the hundreds of thousands in garbage cans and posted videos of the slaughter online in a bid to attract state aid.

The videos posted on YouTube showed tearful factory workers throwing trays of yellow chicks into rusty barrels and drowning them in freezing water. Older birds were dumped from garbage trucks into snowy fields and left to freeze to death.

The head of the Krasnaya Polyana poultry farm in the Kursk region, some 340 miles south west of Moscow, said it has been forced to slaughter over one million chickens after it ran out of money for feed.

In the video appeal, farm director Vladimir Butkeyev pleaded for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev to step in and save jobs, warning he would have to fire his 1,700 workers amid debts of £840,000. "On December 10, we had to start putting to death over one million chickens and shutting the factory, with over 1,000 people to lose their jobs on the eve of New Year," Butkeyev said. "We don't have any option."

Closure of the farm, which accounts for 55 per cent of the region's poultry production and up to one-third of the local budget, would deal a major blow to the rural region's economy. Footage from the farm in Zheleznogorsk showed sobbing workers as they swept incubators clear of hatchlings.