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! has 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.
Without water, their lives have little meaning.
Although white, most farmed ducks are descended from Mallards
- the brown ducks and handsome, green-headed drakes seen on
every village pond. Like them, they would love to fly at 50
mph, 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
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, Kerry Foods’, response was to slice
the end off to prevent ‘feather pulling’ - a
product of the stressful conditions! These Muscovy-type ducklings
are imported to the UK from France at just a day old. The
mutilation can lead to constant pain. Viva! targeted all
UK supermarkets with 'Days of Actions' where are 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.
Another UK-based company, Cherry Valley, is the biggest producer
of duck meat in the world and it brags “... an enterprise
which is both the most intensive of its kind anywhere... As
many as 85,000 birds can be looked after by only one person....”
Manor Farm, which has supplied Marks & Spencer, Iceland and
Safeway was filmed by Viva! in 2004 - the footage shows ill,
dying and dead ducklings in crowded sheds.
Gressingham Foods, formerly Green Label, has now taken over
Kerry Foods and Manor Farm Ducklings. Recent Viva!
investigations have shown that they don't even provide water
troughs for ducks in some of their units, meaning that ducks
cannot even immerse their heads in water to preen.
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. Viva! is campaigning to stop
supermarkets from selling factory farmed ducks.
For further information, please see www.viva.org.uk/campaigns/ducks
undercover video of duck farms. (3MB / 3m 22s)
footage of the Manor Farm investigation. (9.9MB /
our report "Duck out of Water".