If you have contacted Winn-Dixie to protest about their
sale of factory farmed duck meat, you may have received a standard reply
along with their suppliers Guidelines for Ducks. The
following is Viva!s response to that reply. Please use it to write
or call Winn-Dixie again - and again!
October 18, 2000
D.J. Richardson, President
1550 Jackson Ferry Rd.
Montgomery, AL 36104
Dear Mr. Richardson:
We received a letter from Monty Powers, your Vice President of Meat &
Seafood Merchandising in which he also forwarded a copy of Maple Leaf
Farms Duck Well-Being Guidelines. We appreciate your responding
to us and hope you will pass this letter on to someone who deals with
public opinion and your companys reputation rather than your meat
purchaser. You may be aware that McDonalds, an international billion
dollar corporation, has recently announced its policy of working with
more humane suppliers. This change came about because of public opinion,
and it would seem that other corporations who depend on the public for
their profit and survival would be interested in pursuing similar policies.
I would like to take this opportunity to point out that Maple Leaf Farms
(MLF) guidelines do not ensure that the animals are treated humanely nor
does MLF live up to its own guidelines:
Page a - MLF claims to use the most humane and prudent husbandry practices.
However, factory farming ducks without water is inherently inhumane. Because
of their aquatic nature, water deprivation represents a serious welfare
problem for ducks. The ducks are unable to fulfill many of their natural
behavioral patterns. The lack of water prevents them from being able to
preen properly and makes it difficult for them to keep warm. Not being
able to rinse their eyes in water can lead to opthalmia, an infection
in one or both eyes often called sticky eye.
Page 2, #8 -- MLFs guidelines state that the flooring should neither
harm the ducks nor cause undo stress. This statement is contradicted by
Viva's undercover footage showing a bird whose wings are caught in the
mesh floor. He was unable to free himself.
Page 4, #19 - MLF states that one of the conditions to which ducks should
not be subjected is prolonged huddling due to under-heating. Our video
shows ducks in a MLF farm who are huddled together and clearly cold.
Page 4, #20, #21 - MLF states that adequate lighting should be available
for satisfactory inspection at any time. This is a smokescreen to justify
keeping the birds under lighted conditions around the clock so that they
eat more and grow faster. It has nothing to do with ensuring their welfare.
Page 5 - #24 MLF says that ducks should be allowed to exercise most normal
patterns of behavior. MLF is ignoring their needs to swim, fly, filter
water for their food, and bathe.
Again, how do you justify not allowing an aquatic bird access to water
for swimming, or at the very least access to immerse their heads? Obviously,
this is a central question that is not being addressed.
Page 5, #26 Wire floors - MLF gives the stocking density for how many
ducks can be kept on wire floors. According to the Nutrition Management
of Ducks (by Scott and Dean, Cornell University page 17) ducks kept on
wire floors experience lesion of the feet and legs. The epidermis
of the relatively smooth skin on the feet and legs of ducks is less cornified
[than domestic landfowl] and therefore more susceptible to injury....abrasions,
bruises and tears in the area of the hock, shank or foot pad allow the
introduction of pathogenic microorganisms. Staphyococcal and streptococcal
joint infection is the common result on keeping ducks on improperly designed
MLF also includes information on raising ducks on slatted floors. According
to Dean and Scott, there is an increased incidence of leg deformities
with ducklings kept on slatted floors.
All intensively reared ducks are subject to leg disorders. If you have
proof that the ducks raised at MLF never suffer in this way, please send
Page 6, #29 - MLF guidelines mention nipple drinkers. These were documented
as being used by MLF in our undercover investigation. Water nipples were
devised for chickens and are not suitable for ducks – an aquatic bird
that needs to drink larger amounts and to be able to use water for cleaning.
Many other countries do not use water nipples for ducks. In fact, the
European Unions Standing Committee of the European Convention for
the Protection of Animals for Farmed Purposes in 1999 stated that water
for bathing was necessary for ducks in order to fulfill their biological
Page 6, #31 - MLF states that sick, injured or expired ducks
should be promptly removed. Two sheds that were documented in different
states, including one at MLF headquarters, had dead ducks among the live
ones. There were a few ducks who could not stand.
Page 7, #37 - MLF states that bill treatment should be carried out when
it is clear that more suffering would be caused in the flock if it were
not done. This implies that bill treatment causes suffering.
What MLF means by bill treatment is the shortening of the
upper bill (either with heat, an electric knife, or scissors) relative
to the lower one, which prevents the duck from grasping feathers. Scientists
have shown that the ducks bill, including the very tip, is richly
innerverated (supplied with nerves) with sensory receptors and so this
procedure is traumatic to the bird. In England, the Ministry
of Agriculture acknowledges that the affected ducks can suffer pain.
Again, we have mailed you a detailed report of our findings of duck farms
in the U.S. as well as additional information of our investigation of
ducks farms, many of which were of Maple Leaf Farms.
I have enclosed another copy of our leaflet in which a majority of the
photos are from various Maple Leaf Farms and also a copy of our video.
I think you will agree from this documentation that the production of
duck meat is inherently cruel and causes immense suffering for these animals.
If you are still satisfied with the conditions that the ducks are kept
in, could you arrange for me to visit your suppliers units?