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Ducks and water go together like day goes with night. Not any more! During a Viva! investigation into modern duck farming, we were shocked to find that most farmed ducks never even see water, except to drink. They are kept in stinking sheds by the thousands - they can’t fly, they can’t swim, and some can barely walk. These beautiful animals are still essentially wild. They have evolved to eat, dive, clean, and play in water - yet all these basic functions are routinely denied them in farms across the U.S.

In one unit visited, two rows of sheds stretched half-a-mile down a highway, each shed filled with thousands of ducks living on their own accumulated excrement. In another, little yellow ducklings were forced to drink from tiny metal nipples - there was no water for them even to immerse their heads. The place stank of manure from the flooring inside the sheds and the mounds discarded outside.

One little duckling sat forlornly staring out into the street from behind a mesh fence, wet manure on his face and body. In the right conditions, he - like all ducks - would keep himself pristinely clean. But in these places, the filth builds up and they have no way to remove it.

Ducks eat by dabbling - straining plankton and other morsels from the water through their bills. Their bills are as sensitive as human fingertips yet some duck farmers slice through them, shortening the end by burning or cutting without painkillers. The purpose is to control aggression and feather pulling - behavior caused entirely by the unnatural environment. This mutilation can lead to constant pain and can make eating difficult.

Although white in color, most farmed ducks are descended from Mallards - the brown ducks and green-headed drakes seen on lakes and ponds in our parks. Like them, farmed ducks would love to fly at 50mph, to choose a mate and to live for 15 years or more. They can do none of these things and life ends horribly after just seven weeks.

Some ducks suffer from untreated abrasions, bruises, and tears on their feet from wire mesh flooring. In one farm, a bird had his wings caught in the mesh and his constant struggles to free himself failed. He squawked pitifully as he was trampled by other ducklings. It was a heartbreaking sight. Freeing him took considerable effort.

A common sight is ducks who have collapsed and who are unable to get up - they are likely to starve to death and the corpses lying around in the sheds are witness to this.Sadly, death at slaughter is often no more humane. About a million birds every year are conscious when their throats are cut. U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show that thousands are still alive when they are submerged in scalding water to be de-feathered.

Sadly, what’s described here is legal. Ducks, like other farmed animals, are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act. Maple Leaf Farms, the biggest producer in the US, even boasts that factory farming is better for the ducks. But Viva! is determined to expose the truth about this trade to the US public. Only by showing people what really happens behind the closed doors of modern farms can we offer animals their best protection - getting people to stop eating them.

This is only the start. Your voice, your support, your donation will help us to continue our investigations. No one has exposed the horrors of duck farming or slaughter before. By adding your voice to ours, you will give us the strength we need. You will help us get information to the media and public. It will turn plans into reality - such as more weeks of action on duck farming; producing powerful literature showing the reality; and getting copies of our video footage to the media to ensure widespread coverage. You can help us achieve all this. Please support Viva! in any way you can because the animals and the planet need champions like never before.

Factory farming knows no limits! Beautiful birds, driven by an instinctive desire to swim, feed and live in water are being denied all freedom in filthy, crowded, indoor sheds - while those responsible brag about their profits. Please help Viva! expose this national abuse - all contributions to Viva! are tax deductible.

Thank you so much for helping.

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Here's what Viva!'s supporter Sir Paul McCartney says about our campaign:

Once again Viva! exposes a new horror - duck factory farming. I defy anyone with the smallest amount of compassion to look at the facts unearthed by Viva! and not be upset by them. It is a terrible shame that people in a so-called civilised society should be involved in horrific practices such as these.