'Like a Duck out of water.'
Ducks are social creatures and are fantastic swimmers and fliers, travelling hundreds of kilometres per year for migrations. If you're a parent, then it is highly likely you have spent many hours watching ducks in ponds, as young children seem to be fascinated by them! Around the world, including Australia, duck meat is becoming increasingly popular, especially within the Chinese community. Over 8 million ducks are killed each year in Australia, mostly raised on factory farms. There are two intensive producers that dominate the industry - Pepes Ducks and Luv-a-duck.
One of the major flaws in industry is the lack of water provided for these aquatic birds, even when "free-range". In nature you will notice ducks spend much of their time in water; bathing, socialising and feeding. The deprivation of water denies them of instinctual behaviours and is also a physical problem, as ducks can not hold their body weight for extended periods of time and can not clean themselves without it. The stress on their bodies and the resulting collection of grime, often leads to disease outbreaks and even death.
As with any factory farms, there is also the problem with overcrowding. The ducks are raised in closed sheds, just as broiler chickens are. The space allowance for ducks in Australia is 5 birds or 50 ducklings for every 1 square metre. They have to stand on their faeces and breathe in the toxic build up of ammonia.
Animal Liberation has been conducting investigations and reports over the last few years and has had some interesting, and downright sad findings, that have been acknowledged. In 2012, they made a claim against Pepes Ducks, one of the largest producers in Australia to the ACCC, for misleading advertising, where they were found guilty. Then in 2013 it was the other producer Luv-a duck that was found guilty for false and misleading conduct. I find it personally very concerning for consumers, that you can not trust what companies are marketing.
The problem still remains. I highly recommend five minutes of your time to read the thorough report, "Like a Duck out of Water' put together by Animal Liberation. It is not heavy but lays out the facts clearly. Raising awareness of these unjust practises can be empowering to the consumer and may help the plight of the ducks. I believe at a bare minimum, regulation of the industry should enforce producers of ducks to provide them with access to water. It seems obvious but ducks are not chickens and it needs to be acknowledged. Click here for the report.
The website Aussie Ducks is also very informative.
If you choose to eat ducks, then as always I urge you to source organic duck meat, as organic producers have to provide the ducks with outside access and access to water. Burrawong Ducks and Jumjum farms seem to raise their ducks ethically. It is better for the ducks and for you!
The below video is a 7:30 Report that covered the story.