88% of people think farmed ducks should have full-body access to water

88% of people think farmed ducks should have full-body access to water

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A new poll by RSPCA Assured has revealed that 88% of people think farmed ducks should have access to water they can fully get into. However, in reality, typical industry standards don’t insist that ducks bred for meat - sold in supermarkets and served in restaurants - are given this basic requirement.

The RSPCA thinks most people will be shocked to know that the vast majority of farmed ducks only have access to water that just allows them to dip their heads in.


The charity believes this is one of the biggest welfare concerns facing duck farming today - something which will be highlighted in the first episode in the new series of Channel 4’s Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast (Friday 24 November 2017) with hosts Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty.

Worryingly there's no legal requirement to give ducks full body access to open water.  In fact they do not have to be given anything other than drinking water which could be from a metal ball bearing drinker, similar to those used by pet hamsters.

According to RSPCA senior scientific officer, Sophie Elwes, this is very concerning as giving ducks adequate water is essential for them to carry out their natural behaviours and maintain health.


 "Put simply, as waterfowl, ducks need a life in and around water
"And just as the wild ducks we see on ponds and rivers need to splash, preen and immerse themselves in water to keep clean and healthy, so do farmed ducks.
"Duck meat is often considered to be a luxury product and most people, understandably, probably assume the birds will have been farmed to high welfare standards with full body access to water.
"But in most cases this couldn’t be further from the truth."

Sophie Elwes, senior scientific officer


The duck meat industry has developed its own assurance scheme standards for ducks which covers some important areas. However, the RSPCA believes they don’t go far enough and fail to address ducks’ innate need to have full-body access to bathing water.  

Sophie continued: "Currently there are no duck producers farming under the RSPCA Assured label which insists ducks are given full body access to water. And sadly most farmed ducks are only given enough water to be able to dip their heads in, which just isn’t good enough for their welfare.

“The poll tells us that people want farmed ducks to have full body access to water and we hope that Jamie and Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast will help raise awareness amongst consumers that there is no guarantee that the duck they eat will have been given this."


In response to this issue the RSPCA is calling for people to put pressure on their local supermarkets to source duck that has been given adequate open water facilities, as required by the RSPCA Assured scheme. You can lobby your supermarket here.

For more information about the rearing of ducks for meat in the UK, you can read the RSPCA’s ‘Watertight’ report, an in-depth report into the current situation regarding duck welfare.

There are currently no ducks covered by the RSPCA Assured scheme. All RSPCA Assured members must meet the relevant RSPCA welfare standards - the standards for ducks require birds to have full-body access to water. 

  • 202 adults were surveyed by Toluna Quick Surveys on 14 November 2017.

Date: 24 Nov 2017