Animal rights campaigners picketed McDonald’s on Saturday in protest of the fast-food chain’s chicken welfare.

Members of Waltham Forest Animal Protection joined with The Humane League outside the Leytonstone branch.

The groups handed out leaflets and spoke to members of the public about the conditions surrounding chickens raised for McDonald’s items including McNuggets and McChicken Sandwich.

They claim the chickens have been selectively bred over time to put on weight more rapidly than is natural.

The campaigners have called on the world’s biggest fast-food chain to address the fast-growing breed issue, arguing that McDonald’s chickens often cannot walk due to their large body weights.

The birds are kept in cramped barns before being slaughtered at seven weeks.

Mark Dawes, of Waltham Forest Animal Protection and The Humane League, said: “We are extremely concerned that McDonald’s has failed to make sufficient improvements to its inadequate animal welfare policy and demand McDonald’s commit to ending its support of unnecessary animal abuse.

“I hope people join the boycott of McDonalds to put pressure on them to improve animal welfare.

“Of course, the best way to stop animal cruelty is go to vegan.”

When responding to the Humane League’s claims last year, a McDonald’s spokesperson claimed the chain is committed to sourcing food and packaging sustainably.

They said: “This includes continuing to invest significantly to raise welfare standards for the animals in our supply chain and undertaking research to increase industry understanding of the challenges that remain.”

They said farms that rear its chickens must meet independently set farm assurance standards.

“In addition to this, for a number of years we have required them to provide enrichment objects for the birds to peck and perch on, as well as windows in their houses to provide natural light,” they added.

“We recently announced a Global Chicken Sustainability Advisory Council, a multi-stakeholder group including leading academics and animal health and welfare experts, global suppliers and NGOs.

“This group will provide deep expertise, diverse perspectives, and recommendations for evolving our chicken welfare and sustainability strategy across the world.”