Secret filming claims duck cruelty

A Waitrose supplier of free-range ducks has been axed from shelves after it was accused of animal cruelty following an undercover investigaton by Sky News and animal activists.

Secret footage taken at Hall Farm in Hingham, Norfolk, claims to show the birds being herded on to crates to be taken away for slaughter, with some workers allegedly picking ducks up by their necks and swinging them before throwing them back into the flock, Sky reported.

The investigation also claimed dead birds were being left to rot among the flock, while those removed were being left to rot in a skip.

According to Sky, the RSPCA described the footage as “absolutely shocking”. The RSPCA’s farm animal welfare expert Dr Marc Cooper told the news channel: “Commercially reared meat ducks are flightless, heavy animals and handling them in this manner is likely to cause injury to their neck, legs and body.

“Throwing live ducks is incredibly inhumane and would most certainly have caused suffering through pain or injury to the birds.

“The footage shows unacceptable levels of lameness and injury in the flock. Birds that are ill or injured should receive veterinary attention or be humanely culled without delay.”

Hall Farm supplies Waitrose with free-range ducks through processer Gressingham Foods. The retailer told Sky it was “appalled” by the footage. “Following an immediate and detailed investigation, we have now ended our relationship with the supplier and they no longer supply Waitrose.

“The behaviour seen on the film is totally unacceptable and completely goes against the high welfare standards Waitrose expects of its farmers.”

Hall Farm said it had launched its own inquiry, adding: “We take matters of animal health and welfare very seriously and are extremely concerned by the footage we have been shown.”

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