The British Poultry Council has welcomed the conclusions of DEFRA’s report on the welfare of housed ducks, which shows that baths, troughs and showers offer adequate bathing resources for indoor reared ducks in terms of welfare.

Carried out by Oxford University, the study investigated the effects of rearing conditions on a range of duck health and welfare measures, examining in particular the effect of bathing water provision, including the ducks’ own preferences. BPC member companies were involved with the study from the start and have found real value in working with Oxford University.

BPC chief executive Peter Bradnock said: “This study greatly adds to our factual knowledge about ducks and their provision of water. Where previously it was assumed by some organisations that farmed ducks must have ponds, baths or bodies of water to swim in and immerse themselves, this study has shown the animal’s own preference for water accessed via troughs or showers”.

British duck companies are now looking closely at what the results of this study will mean for duck farming.

There has been concern in the past that open bodies of water could concentrate and spread infection in flocks this can now be minimised and the duck’s preference for water provision through troughs as demonstrated in the study will closer meet both its health and welfare needs.

Mr Bradnock added: “The study started in 2004 and its results have been long awaited by the duck sector. Its conclusions should tie up the outstanding issue of water provision in terms of DEFRA’s reissued code of duck welfare.

“The study also provides a basis on which to continue further work on a larger commercial scale, BPC duck members are now involved in research by Cambridge University to do just that.”

This joint work between BPC, DEFRA and Oxford University shows the high interest the British duck sector has in the best health and welfare provision possible for ducks on British farms. The BPC is keen to take forward the research based on the trough and shower findings in larger commercial scale operations.