Vegetarians International Voice for Animals

'Poor welfare standards' exposed at duck farm supplying supermarkets claim Viva!

Release date: 
Thursday, February 28, 2008

DURING an undercover investigation of Gressingham Foods - the supplier of duck meat to Sainsbury's* -lame birds were filmed, alongside ducks with crusty eyes and some with necks so painfully distorted they found it difficult to feed or drink.

Investigators found what they described as an 'apartheid system for ducks' on the farm, with industrial units surrounded by free range birds, their fate simply dictated by how much consumers are willing to pay.

During the first visit, some birds, who were just losing the last of their yellow feathers, had trouble walking, crippled at just two weeks old. A second visit four weeks later saw some ducks now only a few days away from being sent to the slaughterhouse, with 'crusty eye' and abnormally bent necks.

Justin Kerswell, Viva! campaigns director, says: “One duck, his neck painfully contorted, struggled to drink from a bell drinker. Other ducks were evidentially lame, awkwardly scrabbling across the floor. “Nothing really changes. We have filmed scenes like this time and time again. No matter what rough edges are sanded off, factory farming is fundamentally flawed. That is why we are invigorating our campaign to end factory farming - and set Britain's favourite birds free once and for all. “If anyone is really concerned about animal welfare - the best thing they can do is say no to meat such as duck meat - and go vegetarian, or better still, vegan. Sainsbury's have recently boasted of moving over to the RSPCA approved Freedom Foods standards, but vegetarian campaigning group Viva! have criticised this move as it will not necessarily mean that these essentially aquatic birds will go outside and it does not mean that they will ever swim.

For more information about Viva!'s campaign for ducks, visit www.viva.org.uk/ducks or call 0117 944 1000 or email info@viva.org.uk.

ENDS * Although Gressingham supply Sainsbury's and other supermarkets it is not known if these ducks were destined for that particular supermarket chain's shelves.

For more information about this media release, please contact Justin Kerswell, or press officer Helen Rossiter by calling 0117 944 1000; or for out of hours enquiries, call 0794 453 3021. Fifteen million ducks were killed for meat in the UK last year - which has gone down from 22 million in 2001. 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.