Animal rights organisation Dier en Recht has launched a campaign to give the eight million ducks raised on Dutch poultry farms every year access to water to swim or groom in.
Although ducks are water birds and using water is an essential part of their behaviour, ducks raised for consumption are kept indoors in large sheds with no water and no access to the outside, the organisation says.
Behavioural studies show that water is a key part of ensuring ducks are happy and healthy. Ducks in the Netherlands are kept indoors to reduce the risk of spreading diseases.
Duck breeder Jaap Maarsingh told broadcaster NOS that while he understands the emotion attached to the issue, ducks are being raised for human consumption, not to swim in a park.
‘A water system would have consequences for hygiene and animal health,’ he said. ‘We [duck farmers] are known for using little or no medicine. You can imagine that creating large wet areas will lead to health problems.’
The foundation has launched a petition calling on caretaker economic affairs minister Martin van Dam to take action. It points out that systems are being developed in Germany and Britain to give ducks raised as food access to water.