An ‘extremely cruel’ system denying natural behaviours
“By law, ducks can be reared in sheds with no windows. Bathing water is not a necessity; beaks can be trimmed. They don’t have to be provided with bedding, and a metal ball bearing-type water drinker can be used,” Palmer added.
She pointed out there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that ducks should be provided ‘not just head only access to water, but full body access to water.’
Palmer argues that this would ‘enable them to perform their water-related behaviours fully and freely’.
AJP’s investigation discovered that ‘ducks could only throw water over themselves from bell drinkers, which made the substrate sodden’.
Palmer added: “In one shed, 6,500 birds had access to only 50 drinkers – 130 birds per drinker.
“Each bird gets 2-foot square floor space in this farm, yet the Pekin duck has a wingspan of around 1.5m.”
“Not providing adequate bathing and preening for waterfowl who depend on it for their well-being is extremely cruel and means the ducks cannot adequately perform important water-related behaviours.”
Why do ducks need water?
Animal Aid’s Jessamy Korotaga added: “[Ducks] are physiologically and emotionally primed to spend a significant portion of their time in water and conduct a whole range of water enabled behaviours such as wet preening, wing rubbing and feather shaking.
“The Council of Europe (1999) recommends that ducks should be able to dip their heads in water and spread water over their feathers.
“Different depths of water are used to express different behaviours such as dabbling in water which is 10cm deep and swimming in water at least 20cm deep.
“Being able to immerse in water helps them to keep their eyes, nostrils and feathers clean. Without this, their eyes may crust over [this can lead to blindness] and their feathers can deteriorate, so they lose body heat.”
She added that depriving ducks of open water is ‘akin to preventing hens from dustbathing or pigs from rooting’.