AUSTRALIA: Code of conduct ducks protections for farmed birds
Posted: June 24th, 2012 - 8:24pm
Source: Brisbane Times
Dana Campbell, chief executive officer of animal protection organisation Voiceless, writes that an investigation into duck farming by ABC TV's 7.30 that aired on Tuesday night further highlights the entrenched cruelty in factory farming practices and the need for greater transparency for consumers.
With Australia's largest producer, Pepe's Ducks, facing allegations of animal cruelty and deceptive advertising, consumers should be aware that suffering is inherent in the wider duck industry.
According to the Poultry Co-operative Research Centre, more than 8 million ducks are slaughtered each year in Australia. Pepe's is one of two companies dominating the industry with about 70,000 kills a week.
As demand for duck meat rises, producers are under pressure to yield more meat in less time.
Sadly, the growing industry is following the lead of chicken factory farms, with thousands of ducks now permanently confined inside sheds with minimal room.
This is an unnatural environment for these mostly aquatic birds and the results are devastating for their welfare.
Few farmed ducks in Australia have access to open water to fulfil their natural behaviours. Ducks use water to clean themselves and, without it, their eyes and nostrils can become irritated and painful.
Furthermore, due to the rapid growth of their muscles in the factory farmed process, their legs are ill-equipped to carry their weight during their short lives standing on hard floors, resulting in lameness and painful disability.
While these conditions would shock a conscientious consumer, such cruelty is ingrained in the industry through the government Code of Practice that guides its management.
The code governing the farming of ducks allows for up to five fully grown birds or 50 ducklings to be crowded into every square metre.
What's more, the code fails to mention ducks' need for surface water. As a growing industry, this oversight needs to be addressed immediately to specifically consider the behavioural and welfare needs of ducks.