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Protestors call for duck farming ban after investigation finds ‘shocking’ conditions

PUBLISHED: 06:30 08 August 2020 | UPDATED: 15:43 08 August 2020

The conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice Project

The conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice Project

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A duck farm where “shocking” conditions were discovered during an undercover investigation has been the focus of a peaceful demonstration.

Activists from Animal Justice Project protested at Gressingham duck farm, near Diss, against conditions in the company's facilities. Picture: Ayrton CooperActivists from Animal Justice Project protested at Gressingham duck farm, near Diss, against conditions in the company's facilities. Picture: Ayrton Cooper

Activists from Animal Justice Project (AJP) gathered outside Gressingham Foods’ slaughterhouse in Redgrave, near Diss, on Friday (August 7).

They handed over a petition signed by 6,000 people, asking the company to end duck farming after an AYP investigation at its main site, in Woodbridge, last year.

The conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice ProjectThe conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice Project

Findings claimed birds were carried by their necks, causing breaks, given limited space and not provided with sufficient water.

But Gressingham refuted the allegations, maintaining that animal welfare was its top priority.

The conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice ProjectThe conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice Project

Through its subsequent campaign, ‘The Foul Truth’, AJP is calling for a blanket ban of commercial duck farming in Britain, a practice it says can not take place in a humane way.

Ayrton Cooper, AJP senior campaigner, said: “This is the final demonstration for this stage of the campaign as we hand over the petition.

Activists from Animal Justice Project protested at Gressingham duck farm, near Diss, against conditions in the company's facilities. Picture: Ayrton CooperActivists from Animal Justice Project protested at Gressingham duck farm, near Diss, against conditions in the company's facilities. Picture: Ayrton Cooper

“This is all about showing these people they can not get away with abusing and exploiting animals for profit. As we go forward we hope to spread the message even further.”

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As it calls on Gressingham to stop farming ducks, AJP is suggesting the company moves to a plant-based food system.

Gressingham, which adopted Red Tractor assurance standards in 2010, is the UK’s biggest duck meat producer, processing eight million of the 15 million killed during the festive period.

The conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice ProjectThe conditions found at Gressingham Foods duck farm in Woodbridge, Suffolk, in 2019. Picture: Animal Justice Project

“We don’t want them to suddenly close down and for people to lose their jobs,” added Mr Cooper. “Moving towards a plant-based business has been shown to have a positive impact in terms of climate change.

“There are already examples of farmers who have stopped producing beef and started growing alternative foods. Gressingham owns a lot of land and it could easily change.”

Activists from Animal Justice Project protested at Gressingham duck farm, near Diss, against conditions in the company's facilities. Picture: Ayrton CooperActivists from Animal Justice Project protested at Gressingham duck farm, near Diss, against conditions in the company's facilities. Picture: Ayrton Cooper

Responding to AJP’s claims, a Gressingham Foods spokesman said “untrained intruders” may have led to ducks exhibiting “unnatural behaviour”.

They continued: “The (AJP) footage was fully investigated in conjunction with external auditors. Procedures have been reviewed and further training introduced where necessary to ensure incidents of this nature do not occur in future.

“We work to the highest standards in hygiene, biosecurity and animal welfare across all our farms.”

“All Gressingham Foods farms are subject to regular internal and external audits and are under veterinary supervision. All staff responsible for the welfare of our birds have the necessary training with regular updates for continuous improvement.

“Our ducks are reared free-to-roam in large barns with natural light, fresh air, access to water for preening, access to fresh drinking water and feed throughout the day, we also apply a fresh bedding of straw every day.”


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