Roaster ducks go without water

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2006:

LONDON–Cruel as the foie gras industry
is, ducks on French foie gras farms live under
more natural conditions than most ducks raised
for meat.
“Farmed ducks endure worse conditions
than battery hens,” bannered The Independent,
of London, above a July 6 exposé of the roaster
duck industry by Sanjida O’Connell.
Both wild and domestic ducks who are
given their choice of habitat spend about 80% of
their time in water, but “Most of the 18 million
ducks reared for meat in Britain have no access
to water,” O’Connell reported. The same is true
of most of the 26 million ducks raised for
slaughter in the U.S., and actually of most
ducks raised for slaughter almost everywhere
except southern Asia-where governments are trying
to abolish rice paddy duck-rearing to stop the
spread of avian flus.

“Most ducks are kept in sheds holding
about 10,000 birds, at densities of eight per
square meter, in artificial light, with no
outdoor access,” O’Connell continued, citing
findings by the British group Vegetarian
International Voice for Animals.
“A review of duck welfare published in
December 2005 in the World’s Poultry Science
Journal said that ducks without water show
abnormal behavior, such as head-shaking; their
beaks, nostrils and eyes become dirty; and they
can suffer from heat stress,” O’Connell
“The Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs and the Council of Europe
recommend that ducks have enough water to cover
their heads and splash their backs,” O’Connell
wrote, “but this rarely occurs.”
Said British Poultry Council chief
executive Peter Bradnock, “No supermarket would
want ducks who had access to deep water. It
becomes contaminated quickly because ducks suck
water into their system, like colonic
irrigation, and evacuate into the water, which
other ducks drink. This results in a serious
health problem.”
The bottom line is, there is no natural,
humane, and sanitary way to raise ducks to be
The Royal SPCA some years ago accredited
the Irish duck producer Kerry Foods under its
Freedom Food program, intended to promote humane
agricultural practices, but rescinded the
accreditation after viewing undercover video
taken in 2003 and 2004 by representatives of
Viva! and the Hillside Animal Sanctuary.
The RSPCA tried to use the video to
prosecute Kerry Foods for cruelty, but the case
was dismissed because the videographers were held
to have been trespassing when they obtained their

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