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Ducks out of water

Ducks - essentially wild water birds - are being factory farmed in stinking sheds. They can’t fly, they can’t swim and some can barely walk.

Read more about our investigation into the USA Duck Industry or view pictures here

Click here to read our Update on Wholefoods (November 2002)

Like a Duck to Water

Ducks - creatures that have evolved to eat, swim, dive, clean and play in the water - never even see it, except in their mechanical waterers. Without water, ducks are deprived of their natural habitat. Denied this fundamental requirement, they can’t preen properly and they find it difficult to keep warm. Without water they may develop eye problems that can result in blindness.

Ducks naturally keep them-selves spotlessly clean. In the stinking sheds where they are forced to exist, the filth builds up on them and they have no way to remove it.

Wild Ones

Although white in color, most farmed ducks are descended from Mallards - the brown ducks and handsome, 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. Fly? Some can barely walk because of painful leg deformities. There is no mating and life ends violently after seven weeks. Many will be fully conscious when their throats are cut.

Unlucky Ducks

Ducks, like other animals raised for food, are excluded from the federal Animal Welfare Act. Thousands are stocked in each factory unit. The filth often results in painful ammonia burns from rising urine levels. Most never feel the sun, wind, or rain on their backs—just artificial light. Unsurprisingly, many ducks become diseased and die. In the crowded sheds, others are pushed on to their backs where, unable to right themselves, they starve to death. Those kept on wire floors or in cages often suffer from untreated abrasions, bruises, and tears on their feet.

No Dabbling!

Ducks eat by dabbling - straining plankton and tasty morsels from the water through their bills. This vital organ is as sensitive as human fingertips. Despite this, some duck farmers shorten the upper bill by burning or cutting it - without painkillers. It is done to control feather pulling - behavior caused by the unnatural environment. This mutilation can lead to constant pain and even makes normal eating difficult.

Forcibly Starved

Breeding stock, which supply the eggs for hatching, are forced into molting by being forcibly starved. All feed is removed until they lose almost one third of their body weight. About half will shed most of their primary feathers. Some will die. This cruelty is legal and is designed to produce an extra egg-laying cycle. Some farmers add a further twist - by removing all water for 24 hours at a time.

Boiled Alive?

Every year, about one million ducks are conscious when their throats are cut. Thousands are still alive when they are submerged in scalding water to be de-feathered. Even those who are electrically stunned may still be conscious - but paralyzed. Rather than rendering them unconscious, stunning may inflict severe pain on ducks. There appears to be no humane way to kill birds in the super-efficient, mass production poultry industry.

What do the Producers Say?

Maple Leaf Farms is the largest duck producer in the US, raising 14 million ducks per year. They justify factory farming by claiming it is better for the ducks - in fact, they boast that their birds are not ’free-range’.

Metzer Farms supplies day-old ducklings to farmers. They send them through the Post Office. Sometimes the Post Office delivers, sometimes they must be picked up. No food or water is provided in the boxes. But Metzer say that’s okay.

What does Viva! Say?

Factory farming knows no limits! Beautiful birds, driven by an instinctive desire to swim and to live in water are being denied all freedom in filthy, indoor sheds, while those responsible brag about their profits.


Dive into Action for Ducks

The following supermarkets are major sellers of factory farmed duck meat. Write polite letters of protest or call:

Lee Scott, President
P.O. Box 116
AR 72712-9956

Tel: 800-925-6278

For a letter to send to Wal-Mart, click here

D.J. Richardson, President
1550 Jackson Ferry Rd.

See our response to Winn-Dixie’s Letter

John Shields, CEO
Trader Joe’s
P.O. Box 3270
South Pasadena,
CA 91031

Tel: 626-441-1177

For a letter to send to Trader Joe’s, click here
See our response to Trader Joe’s letter > September, 2001
Update on Trader Joe’s

Please write to Whole Foods and let them know you are surprised to find out they are carrying factory farmed duck meat! It doesn't seem to go with the image they have created for themselves. Also contact your regional offices. Keep in mind the Whole Foods in the Midwest will not carry Grimaud or Maple Leaf Farms! Most do sell GRIMAUD.

John Mackey, CEO/Founder
Whole Foods
601 N. Lamar Blvd., Suite 300
TX 78703

Tel: 512/477-4455

Update on Whole Foods campaign and their selling of factory farmed duck meat - November 2002

Read Viva!’s response to some Whole Foods’ (Bread and Circus/Fresh Fields) recent claims.

Read what the companies involved in duck farming say and Viva!’s response - Grimaud Farms and Whole Foods Market.

Get informed - read the Viva! report on duck farming, Ducks Out of Water, or our Briefing Paper. Watch our undercover video of duck farming or view pictures from our investigation.

Send a letter to your local newspaper - for an example, click here

Get involved - get the Ducks Out of Water action pack which contains a petition, a sample poster, and an order form to get more copies of Viva!’s leaflet to distribute.

Don’t eat duck meat - help stop the cruelty.

Go veggie! Animals raised for food live desolate lives full of pain and misery.


Read Viva!'s Briefing on Duck Farming

Watch Viva!'s undercover video on duck farming

View pictures from our investigation

Click here for how you can help.