Welcome to our brand-new campaign: Down with Duck Farming!
This celebrity- and expert-backed campaign has one aim and that is to end UK duck farming. Since 2019, Animal Justice Project has carried out four undercover investigations into the inherently cruel duck industry. Exposing industry-leader, Gressingham Foods, as well as small-scale ‘Gold Star’ free-range farm, Pastures Poultry, we have showed that farmed ducks are not afforded access to open water; they are unable to bathe or swim.
In fact, this directly breaches the Animal Welfare Act 2006. The legislation itself violates the rights of ducks, allowing for their commodification, but even these most basic ‘protections’ are not afforded to most of the UK’s ducks. This is the beginning of the end of this cruel and callous industry.
With support from celebrities, veterinarians, ethologists, charities and other animal campaign groups, Down with Duck Farming is going to shake this already dwindling industry!
Why are we launching Down with Duck Farming?
Ducks are semi-aquatic birds, adapted for a life in and around water. They have webbed feet, natural buoyancy and waterproof feathers – ducks are at home in the water. They are loved across the world, with their quirky personalities and joyful sounds, yet millions of ducks are tragically farmed and slaughtered every year for the dinner table.
Duck farming is declining, with a huge decrease of four million ducks from 2019 to 2020: 11 millions ducks and geese were killed in 2020. These aquatic birds are supposedly ‘protected’ by the Animal Welfare Act (2006), yet even their most basic ‘protections’ are being breached by UK duck farmers.
The first time that most farmed ducks see open water is when they are electrocuted in a stun bath.
Here is what Edie Bowles has to say, Solicitor and Co-Founder at Advocates for Animals, the UK’s first Animal Protection Law Firm:
“Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 requires that the needs of an animal must be met to the extent required by good practice. An animal’s needs include a suitable environment and the need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns. Ducks being farmed in the UK often have no access to water to bathe or swim in. Bathing and swimming is the most normal of behaviours for a duck and no suitable environment should ever not provide for it.
Sadly, animal welfare law is often predicated on the commercial needs of industry, which in this case is the duck farming industry. However, it is difficult to understand what normal behaviours the law is trying to protect, or the suitable environment it is trying to provide, if access to water for aquatic birds like ducks is not required.”
Duck farming violates the rights of these benevolent birds.
Across the farms and slaughterhouses that were investigated by Animal Justice Project, horrifying abuses were found: ducks had their delicate necks snapped, were trapped under artificial lighting for as long as two days, were not afforded any open water for bathing or swimming, were savagely thrust down into metal shackles and left hanging for as long as 14 minutes (SEVEN times the legal limit), and thrown down waste chutes without checking to see if they were even dead.
Despite clear law-breaking inside Gressingham Foods’ slaughterhouse, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) deemed it would “not be in the public interest” to take legal action. The Welfare of Animals at the Time of Killing (WATOK) legislation was breached, and many ducks suffered as a result, yet the abattoir saw no repercussions and no justice was served.
There was public outrage after national media reached millions with these heart-wrenching findings and over 71,000 concerned citizens signed a petition to demand that the CPS take action.
This emphasises the complete FAILURE by the UK government to truly protect farmed animals.
Actor and Activist Evanna Lynch has supported Animal Justice Project’s The Foul Truth campaign since 2019, and has spoken out about why duck farming must be ended:
“Consumers are largely unaware that ducks on UK farms rarely have access to an open source of water. A duck’s most basic instincts – swimming and bathing – are prevented by companies like Gressingham Foods. I implore everyone to see the individual animals behind the products you see on the supermarket shelves, and to stop supporting such mass cruelty. Animal Justice Project’s ‘Down with Duck Farming’ campaign is essential to building a kinder, brighter future for these aquatic birds.”
Avian influenza (bird flu) is an ever-growing obstacle for the duck industry.
In recent years, Gressingham Foods has ‘culled’ – killed – over 100,000 ducks on their farms due to bird flu outbreaks. The last outbreak was as recent as March 2022 with a further 35,000 birds being slaughtered at their site in Diss, Norfolk. This past winter has seen more than 80 cases of Avian influenza being reported, the largest outbreak that the UK has ever seen.
Duck farming can create breeding grounds for infectious diseases and the results are becoming more apparent, foreshadowing an uncertain future. Three in four of the world’s emerging infectious diseases originate from animals, and are perpetuated by animal agriculture.
This is just the beginning for Down with Duck Farming. The farming of ducks is being affected in so many ways already, and we aim to keep that going. This inherently cruel and unlawful industry must be ended. We cannot call ourselves a nation of animal lovers whilst ducks suffer by the million. But, you and me can change the bleak outlook for ducks and turn it into something bright and wonderful.
In the coming weeks, there will be online actions to take. Please keep a look out by signing up to our mailing list below or on our social media. Together we can make a huge difference for ducks.
For the animals.