Cherry Valley has secured RSPCA Freedom Food accreditation for its high-welfare duck rearing system.

This higher level of welfare is achieved by giving ducks reared under the Lincolnshire firm’s Farm Fresh Duck brand access to verandas from the barns in which they live, so they are free to come and go as they please.

Birds receive fresh straw on a daily basis and have purpose-built pools of water in the verandas, so that they can wade, preen and paddle.

“It is a space for ducks to make as much mess as they like, a bit like an outdoor wet room, without compromising the rest of the house environment.

“They can get into the troughs and preen, dabble and paddle. They also get fresh air and sunshine, but without the risk posed by contact with wild birds and predators,” said agricultural operations manager Brian Kenyon.

Another feature of the system is that it keeps the ducks’ drinking water separate in the barns along with the feed, which contains locally-sourced wheat and contains no bonemeal or additives.

The result, as Mr Kenyon pointed out, is that “Birds have access to open water, daylight and fresh air in an area outside of the house while still being protected from predators and disease.”

Eric Jagger, sales and marketing director at Cherry Valley, added: “We are delighted to have achieved Freedom Food accreditation. Cherry Valley is a company dedicated to welfare standards and we are continuously looking for ways to improve our methods and ways of working in order to produce the best cared for ducks.

“We are now able to display the Freedom Food logo officially on our Farm Fresh duck packaging and website so our customers and consumers can be assured of the quality and welfare Cherry Valley stands for.”