Ducks (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock (PB0079)

Preface

This preface is not part of the Code, but is intended to explain its purpose and to indicate the broad considerations upon which it is based.

The basic requirements for the welfare of livestock are a husbandry system appropriate to the health and, so far as practicable, the behavioural needs of the animals and a high standard of stockmanship.

Stockmanship is a key factor because, no matter how otherwise acceptable a system may be in principle, without competent, diligent stockmanship the welfare of the birds cannot be adequately catered for. The recommendations which follow are designed to help stockmen, particularly those who are young or inexperienced, to attain the required standards. The part that training has to play in the development of the stockman's awareness of welfare requirements cannot be overstressed.(1) Detailed advice on the application of the Code in individual circumstances is readily available through the official advisory services and in advisory publications.

Nearly all livestock husbandry systems impose restrictions on the stock and some of these can cause an unacceptable degree of discomfort or distress by preventing the birds from fulfilling their basic needs. Provisions meeting these needs, and others which must be considered, include:

  • comfort and shelter;
  • readily accessible fresh water and a diet to maintain the birds in full health and vigour;
  • freedom of movement;
  • the company of other birds particularly of like kind;
  • the opportunity to exercise most normal patterns of behaviour;
  • light during the hours of daylight, and lighting readily available to enable the birds to be inspected at any time;
  • flooring which neither harms the birds, nor causes undue strain;
  • the prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment of vice, injury, parasitic infestation and disease;
  • the avoidance of unnecessary mutilation; and
  • emergency arrangements to cover outbreaks of fire, the breakdown of essential mechanical services and the disruption of supplies.

Not all husbandry systems in use for ducks equally meet the physiological and behavioural needs of the birds. An attempt has therefore been made, on the basis of the latest scientific knowledge and the soundest current practices, to identify those features which could place the welfare of ducks at risk unless precautions are taken. The Code sets out what these precautions should be, bearing in mind the importance to the birds of their total environment and the fact that there is often more than one way in which their welfare can be safeguarded.

Certain aspects of livestock husbandry can present hazards to the health and safety of the stockman. Advice on these matters is available from the local Agriculture Safety Inspector of the Health and Safety Executive.

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