Animal welfare group, the RSPCA has launched a new campaign aimed at improving conditions on commercial duck farms.
Called "Like a duck to water" it focuses on making the provision of bathing water a legal requirement for farmed ducks.
"More ducks are being farmed in the UK but, shamefully, welfare has taken a backward step, with millions of ducks deprived of the very basics, like bathing water," said a statement.
"By law, ducks can be reared in sheds with no windows, do not have to be given bedding, and can be given nothing more than a metal ball bearing-type water drinker, similar to that given to pet hamsters."
The RSPCA claims that, unlike its own Freedom Food scheme, the industry's own Duck Assurance Scheme does not require ducks to have natural daylight or bathing water.
And, with one major duck producer and a number of supermarkets switching from Freedom Foods to the DAS last year, about two million ducks are now reared to lower standards, it claims.
But this is vehemently denied by the British Poultry Council, which has accused the RSPCA of "seriously misleading the public in its attempt to promote its own Freedom Food brand".
"The DAS requirements for the provision of water for ducks reared indoors, and the Freedom Foods scheme, both require the ducks to have access to open water to be able to dip their heads, to preen and to toss water on to their feathers," it says.
"The DAS standards further specify that, where drinking water is provided by nipple drinkers, that additional bathing water must be provided." This can be in the form of troughs or showers, whereas Freedom Food requires ducks be given troughs, at least 20cm wide and 10cm deep, for both drinking and bathing water.
"Nipple drinkers can be used for provision of clean drinking water, but sufficient open water sources must also be provided. These are specified requirements in the Duck Assurance Scheme and the RSPCA knows this."
Separate nipple drinkers had the advantage of ensuring that drinking water did not become dirty from bathing activities.
The BPC said it was also "disingenuous" of the RSPCA to imply that ducks were raised without access to bedding. "In fact, the ducks reared in the UK are all provided with fresh litter and this is topped up on a daily basis," the statement added.