Last week we launched our Down with Duck Farming campaign, but where do we go from here? A key component to the campaign is that UK duck farming breaches the Animal Welfare Act 2006 – legislation that already violates the rights of ducks. The industry is inherently cruel and unlawful so why is the government not taking action about these abusive conditions?
The tragic reality is that the government is already aware but we wanted to see if their opinion had changed since the RSPCA launched their ‘Watertight’ report back in 2013. We have teamed up with Kerry McCarthy MP, who has been vegan for over 30 years, to take our campaign to Parliament.
Kerry McCarthy MP tabled a Parliamentary Question on behalf of Animal Justice Project to see how the government’s own policies are in line with the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for ducks.
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, with reference to Section 9 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, whether it is his Department’s policy that farmed ducks should have access to an open body of water.
Victoria Prentis, Conservative MP and the Minister of State for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), responded.
Defra has published a statutory duck welfare code which encourages high standards of husbandry for the keeping and breeding of farmed ducks. We recognise the welfare benefit of providing open water for ducks. However, in a commercial setting the provision of open bathing water for ducks is a difficult issue, as a balance needs to be struck between the welfare needs of the birds and the risks to duck health, hygiene and food safety if ducks are given unlimited access to open bathing water, which can become easily contaminated. Defra’s code recommends that ducks should always have easy access to fresh water and that consideration should be given to the provision of water troughs, which are deep enough to allow the ducks to get their heads completely under water.
To summarise, the response from the Minister of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs explains that ducks SHOULD have access to open water, but because of “duck health, hygiene and food safety”, they do enforce their own legislation. By including “food safety”, it is clear that the response is based on the profitability of ducks being farmed, rather than the ducks’ actual ‘welfare’ or ‘health’.
This is NOT acceptable! Ducks should not have their rights violated en masse for the sake of large corporations like Gressingham Foods making greater profits. This inherently cruel and unlawful industry must be ended!
Despite the government failing animals yet again, this gives us more backing to launch the next part of the campaign for Down with Duck Farming! This week has been a wonderful celebration of ducks and we have much more to come. Thank you for your dedication to ducks.
For the animals.