THE managing director of an East Lancashire farm where 100 chicks were bricked to death said she was ‘absolutely horrified’.

Police believe the birds died when a gang of five teenage boys forced their way into two pens at Knuzden Brook Poultry Farm in Haslingden Old Road on Tuesday night and hit them with bricks and rocks.

Debbie Lyons said: “It’s diabolical. Whoever has done this – they are mindless cowards.

"How can a chick defend itself?

“These children need to be found and stopped. I don’t understand the motivation behind it, except that it’s peer pressure and thinking they look big.

“I really hope that one of them in the gang really regrets doing this and comes forward.

“The thing is, one day it’s chicks, then it could be a cat, then it could escalate and we end up with a child being attacked in a playground.

“This is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen.”

The gang of five youths, aged around 17 or 18, were spotted outside a chicken pen by farm manager Matthew Hyland, 25, when he pulled his van up in the yard at 8.30pm on Tuesday.

Matthew said: “My passenger ran after the lads, and I drove the van to the next road to see if I could stop them, but they got away.

“It’s awful. We work with these chickens every day, feeding them, making sure they’re all right.”

Matt said: “If the youths had got into our control room and damaged it, then the whole operation would have shut down and with no heating.

"All the chicks would have died within five or 10 minutes.

“It could have cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

Anybody with any information should contact police on 08451 25 35 45 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.