The shooting season has just started (1 September), but very few people in Britain will appreciate that, in addition to the 45 million partridges and pheasants mass-produced to be shot every year, almost one million ducks1 – just like those fed by families in parks – are also killed by ‘sport’ shooters.
Animal Aid has gathered unique undercover footage from Ceredigion, Wales showing mallard ducks being reared in appalling conditions for the shoot industry. Far removed from their natural wetland habitat and confined in huge sheds, ducks are intensively bred and raised in filthy conditions, only to be moved to flight ponds for the start of the shooting season.
Our film shows the various stages of their development: from tiny chicks, penned in enclosures, to the thousands of birds who are almost fully-grown, living in a huge shed which appears not to have been cleaned out since the birds were transferred there. In the darkness, our camera picked out the faeces-covered floor and the lack of comfort or bedding, as well as the deafening noise that so many birds, packed together, produce.
In another shed, young, inquisitive ducks wandered past a dead mallard, whilst a companion – who was much smaller than the rest of the flock – lay on the ground, breathing heavily and too weak to stand or move over to the automated feeding and watering stations.
In another room at the farm, our undercover cameraman discovered 15 crates piled high, awaiting collection. They were crammed full of cheeping baby chicks. There was no food or water for them. Our visit took place at 3.30 a.m. and so it is likely that they had been left in this state for some hours. Animal Aid contacted Ceredigion Animal Health Department on 11 August 2009. In a follow-up phone conversation, a senior council official was not prepared to say whether an investigation has taken place or if any action has been taken against the owners of the farm.
Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler:
‘Compassionate people will be shocked to discover that mallard ducks are purpose-bred to be killed by people willing to pay £500 a day for the pleasure of extinguishing life. Most of us have fond childhood memories of being taken to the park to watch the ducks swimming, feeding, preening and caring for their young. In turn, we treat our children to this joyful tradition. Our film shows that, behind closed doors, these same birds are factory-farmed in grim and filthy sheds, only to be gunned down by those who think that shooting animals for fun makes them good sportsmen.’
Notes to Editors:
* For interviews and further information, contact Andrew Tyler or Kit Davidson on 01732 364546
* View the film
* View still images
* Animal Aid filmed during August 2009 at Cefn Gwyn Hall, Pennant, Llanon, Ceredigion, SY23 5PD.
* Ducks may be shot for sport between 1 September and 31 January.
* Every year in Britain nearly a million ducks are shot1. Most of these are mass-bred in sheds and delivered to flight pond locations by breeder businesses. The flight pond is an open expanse of water used by the ducks in the evening for roosting. The ducks will return to the pond at dusk from other daytime feeding areas and depart the pond at dawn. These are the times that the shooters lay in wait.
* Only one fifth of the shot ducks are sold to game dealers for public food consumption2. The fate of the remaining 800,000 is uncertain, but it is likely that the bred ducks suffer a similar rate (estimated to be 50 per cent) of predation, starvation, wounding and misadventure as other game birds in the harsh environment of release, for which they are unprepared.
1. PACEC, The Economic and Environmental Impact of Sporting Shooting, 2006, page 22
2. PACEC, The Economic and Environmental Impact of Sporting Shooting, 2006, page 23