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Conventional Duck Farming

Around 9 million ducks are raised for their meat, eggs and feathers in Australia each year. Most of these ducks are farmed in intensive systems where they are housed in sheds in conditions similar to meat chickens. They do not have access to the outdoors. The major welfare issue associated with duck farming is the lack of access to open water. Ducks are aquatic birds and this lack of access to open water prevents them from carrying out their natural behaviours, such as preening themselves and cleaning their eyes and nostrils.

A condition called crusty eye, which can result in blindness, is common in conventionally farmed ducks. Lameness is another common problem. Because ducks are aquatic birds they have weak leg and thigh joints, as they do not normally need to hold their body weight for extended periods of time. When water is denied, ducks must hold their entire body weight on their legs for up to 7 weeks (until slaughter). Selective breeding for rapid growth compounds this issue as more pressure is put onto these already weak leg and thigh joints.


What are the alternatives?

FREPA and Humane Choice run schemes for accrediting free range duck farms in Australia

  • According to their standards, ducks must have access to an outdoor range, however access to open water is not a requirement for certification
  • Organic standards do require that ducks have access to a stream, pond or lake


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Highest animal welfare choices:

  • Accredited free range and organic duck
  • Only a small proportion of free range duck is currently accredited
  • For products labeled free range that are not accredited, speak to the retailer or producer directly to find out about farming methods used
  • Look for the following logos:

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  • Free range and organic duck is not widely available
  • Specialty butchers may carry some free range and organic duck
  • Farmers’ markets: see to find markets in your local area
  • Online retailers. See Where to Buy

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See also:

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