AND A WORD FOR DUCKS

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, November 2000:

ATLANTA––Actress Hayley Mills, in person, and rock-and-roll star Paul McCartney, via videotape from London, on September 14 helped the British group Viva!––International Voice for Animals to bring their antiduck meat campaign to America with a press conference in Atlanta and simultaneous protests at shopping centers in 20 other cities.

In Britain, according to Viva! representative Lauren Ornelas, the Viva! campaign against duck meat caused every major supermarket chain to stop selling duck meat, and, she said, “The industry has promised to undertake a major review of duck farming conditions.”

“In the U.S.,” Ornelas stated, “almost 24 million ducks were slaughtered in 1999, up from almost 22 million in 1997.”

Ninety-nine U.S. farms produced ducks for the American market, along with several dozen in Canada.

“Ducks, like other animals raised for food, are excluded from the Animal Welfare Act,” Ornelas continued. Accordingly, she explained, “There are no standards set forth by the U.S. government as to how these animals are housed, fed, or treated.”

Some abuses of factory-farmed ducks and geese, such as forcefeeding them by means of pipes thrust down their throats to produce engorged lives to make foie gras, are relatively well-known.

But other abuses, Ornelas noted, are not. For example, as Viva! undercover video taken at Maple Leaf Farms, Grimaud Farms, and Culver Farms facilities in California and Indiana shows, “Intensive confinement sheds house thousands of ducks on wire mesh,” over sloping cement drains. But, Ornelas charged, “Keeping ducks on wire results in painful abrasions, bruises, and tears of the hock, shank, and foot pad. Infections result.

“Intensively reared ducks have no access to water for swimming,” Ornelas added, “and often they are unable to even immerse their heads,” contrary to the image conveyed by the largest Canadian brand name: Brome Lake Ducks. Although the duck barns are beside Brome Lake, in Knowlton, Quebec, the ducks reared there never even see the water.

“Ducks are aquatic birds. In nature they spend 80% of their time in water,” Ornelas reminded. “Denied this fundamental requirement, they can’t preen properly and find it difficult to keep warm. Without water, they also often develop eye problems that can result in blindness.” Like hens, intensively raised ducks are often debeaked––but to control stress-induced feather-pulling rather than pecking.

STUNNING FAILURES

Also like chickens, ducks are shackled upside down and dragged through an electrified trough of water before being killed––not to pre-stun them so much as to induce paralysis, to keep them still as their throats are cut. About one duck in two dozen is still conscious when killed, Ornelas said. “USDA data shows that thousands are still alive when they are submerged in scalding water to be defeathered,” she finished.

Viva! on August 26 issued similar charges about British slaughterhouses of all kinds, based on statistics obtained from the Meat Hygienc Service [the British equivalent to USDA meat inspection], the European Commission’s scientific veterinary committee, and independent research.

A Viva! report entitled Sentenced to Death alleged that each year in Britain, five million sheep, 1.6 million pigs, 230,000 cattle, and 8.4 million chickens, turkeys, and ducks regain consciousness after electrical stunning, before they are killed.

“Viva! investigators filmed pigs being briefly stunned,” wrote Tom Robbins of the London Times. “At one abattoir in Wales, they saw two pigs regain consciousness as they hung by a hind leg, being bled. The animals struggled so violently that they fell out of the shackles.”

The Humane Farming Association released similar footage from a cattle slaughtering plant in Washington state in May, and SHARK released similar video from a pig slaughtering plant in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1999.

[The new Viva! U.S. headquarters may be contacted at P.O. Box 49023, Atlanta, GA 30359; 404-315-8881; fax 404-315-8685; <info@vivausa.org>; .]</info@vivausa.org>

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