Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

5. Ducks out of Water

Ducks out of water

No doubt you’ve spent many happy days feeding ducks on your local river or pond. To state the obvious, ducks are water birds – evolved to eat, swim, dive, clean and play in water. Yet an investigation by Viva! revealed that even these animals are factory farmed – where they never even see water, except in their drinkers. Denied this fundamental requirement, they can’t preen properly and find it hard to keep warm. Without water they may develop eye problems and even blindness.

In the crowded sheds, there’s no sun, no wind and no rain to run off their backs - just constant, artificial light. Unsurprisingly, many become diseased and die.

Although white, most farmed ducks are descended from Mallards – the brown ducks and handsome, green-headed drakes seen on village ponds. Like them, they would love to fly at 50mph, to choose a mate and to live for 10 years or more. Fly? Some can hardly walk because of leg deformities. There’s no mating and life ends brutally after seven weeks – many will be fully conscious when their throats are cut.

All across the world, Britain included, ducks are being driven off ponds and into intensive sheds. 95 per cent of duck meat sold in restaurants and supermarkets is from birds reared indoors. Up to 10,000 ducks in one ‘unit’, with faeces-sodden litter – that can result in painful ammonia burns.

In the crowded sheds, there’s no sun, no wind and no rain to run off their backs – just constant, artificial light. Unsurprisingly, many become diseased and die. Others are pushed on to their backs where, unable to right themselves, they starve to death.

A duck eats by straining plankton and tasty morsels from the water through its beak. This vital organ is as sensitive as finger tips. Despite this, Viva! exposed the fact that one UK producer’s response was to slice the end off to prevent ‘feather pulling’ – a product of the stressful conditions! The mutilation can lead to constant pain. Viva! targeted all UK supermarkets with 'Days of Actions' where our supporters talked to customers and gave them info outside the stores across the UK. This resulted in us stopping the debeaking of ducks in Britain. In the USA, our duck campaign led to a supermarket chain, Whole Foods, withdrawing all factory farmed duck meat – and then all factory farmed products.

Manor Farm, which supplied Marks & Spencer, Iceland and Safeway was filmed by Viva! in 2004 – the footage shows ill, dying and dead ducklings in crowded sheds.

Beautiful birds, still driven by a powerful call of the wild, are being denied all freedom in stinking factory farms - while those responsible boast about it.

For Viva!’s latest footage and duck report, see www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/ducks