On the morning of 29 November 2018, around 70 activists from six states converged on the Luv-A-Duck slaughterhouse in Nhill, Victoria, in an action coordinated by Bear Witness Australia and Aussie Farms.
Large banners were spread across the rooftop and shell pools were filled with water, before activists began removing ducks from the slaughter line so that they could swim for the first time in their lives.
Ducks are aquatic animals, so they naturally have weak leg and thigh joints as they don’t normally need to hold their body weight for extended periods of time. Where surface water is available, ducks will float for long periods, reducing pressure on their muscular and skeletal system. However, when surface water is denied, as in most Australian farms including those labelled as free range, ducks must hold their entire body weight on their legs for up to 7 weeks – often much longer for ducks kept for breeding – resulting in lameness, dislocated joints and broken bones.
Selective breeding aimed at growing ducks faster and heavier, coupled with the insufficient bone formation of their juvenile skeletal system, adds even more pressure on their already weak leg and thigh joints.
Without water for even dipping their heads, ducks are unable to keep their eyes, nostrils and feathers clean, worsening the risk of disease or blindness. Living in their own waste and the resulting high levels of ammonia can cause painful burns on their feet and exacerbate wounds and injuries. These poor environmental conditions and overcrowding commonly lead to neurological disease where incoordination and head and neck tremors are followed by paralysis, convulsions, coma and death.
Despite never before having access to surface water, within moments of being placed into the shell pools the ducks were dipping, swimming, dunking, grooming and all round joyfully playing in the water.
After halting the slaughter line for two hours, activists asked to take the 19 randomly selected ducks who had been given the chance to swim, rather than having them sent back to slaughter - but police and Luv-A-Duck management refused, forcing activists to grab the ducks and run.
See what they were saved from at killaduck.com.