BRISTOL-BASED animal campaigning group Viva! has responded to concerns by local residents about a free-range duck farm located in the Woolley Valley outside Bath by raising those concerns with the relevant authorities*.
Photos passed to Viva! show ducks caked in mud at the farm, which Viva! say suggests the area is potentially unsuitable for duck farming and the welfare of the animals could be compromised**. Concerned locals have told Viva! that the ducks at the farm – which is believed to be owned by Golden Valley Paddocks Ltd – do not have access to water for swimming and fear they may be suffering because of the conditions.
Henry Nield (previously of Woolley Valley and now a Bath resident) expressed his concerns, “When I lived in Woolley, until November of 2011, I would frequently walk along Woolley Lane and found the smell of the new duck farm disturbing.
“The location seems inappropriate for ducks, with no water for them to swim in, and the farming methods questionable to any concerned onlooker: cramming ducks into sheds doesn't seem a humane or healthy way to rear and keep them, and the fact that they have no ponds to swim and wash in seems unnecessarily cruel as well…even seagulls down on the Avon like to gather for social bathing parties! I think humane and appropriate farming methods are the least we can ask for in our society, and it seems strange to me that the intensive farming of ducks on a hillside with no natural water provided, in unhealthy smelling conditions, is in fact lawful, let alone appropriate for the ducks, or indeed for the beautiful Woolley Valley itself.”
Justin Kerswell, campaigns manager at Viva!, added: “Whilst it is surprisingly legal not to provide ducks bred for meat or eggs access to water for swimming, or even water for washing and preening properly, I think these photos are a perfect example of why this should be against the law.
“Farmed ducks are essentially still aquatic birds, which in the wild choose to do almost everything in water. To deny them access to swimming water seems especially cruel. Ducks killed for meat are typically slaughtered at just seven weeks old. It is our understanding that the ducks at this farm are kept mostly for eggs, which means that they will live in these conditions considerably longer. There must also be concerns about pollution from the farm, which could also affect the health of the birds. From what I’ve seen it really can be a quagmire in the wet weather – which we are not in short supply of at the moment.
“Sadly, most of the 15 million ducks farmed and killed each year in the UK do not have access to water for swimming. However, we hope the authorities can do something to help these birds and force the owners to improve conditions, but the best thing you can do to help ducks is to not buy their meat or eggs.”
Notes to Editors
* Viva! has contacted both Animal Health and Bath Trading Standards with welfare concerns.
** If ducks are unable to preen and clean themselves properly through lack of water this can lead to ‘crusty eye’ (build-up of dirt around the eyes). This can – in extreme cases – lead to blindness as their eyes become ‘glued’ shut. Viva! has been campaigning to end the factory farming of ducks since 1999. The group’s campaign has been instrumental in ending the practice of de-beaking of British ducks and has been credited by several supermarkets as the impetus for welfare improvements.
For more information about this media release, please contact Justin Kerswell on 0117 944 1000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.