A poultry farmer has taken an extreme measure in giving away 4,000 ducks after a dispute with his supplier, Cherry Valley.

Ian Chisholm of the Fair Trade Egg Company said his business and plans for the future had been derailed by a flock of 4,000 ducks intended for egg production being almost 11% male.

He told Poultry World that a cashflow crisis caused by fewer eggs than expected and wasted feed led to his decision to give the birds away to the public “for welfare reasons”.

Cherry Valley said an offer to feed the ducks and remove them from the farm had been declined.

However, Mr Chisholm said the terms of that offer were that it would be in full and final settlement – which would mean he could not then pursue Cherry Valley for any compensation.

The ducks, which were bought as day-olds in June 2013, came into lay in November and in the new year, lower-than-expected production became apparent.

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“The problem with having too many males is that they end up overmating the females, and killing them,” he said. This is compounded by the male ducks taking feed and producing no eggs.

Mr Chisholm said he felt Cherry Valley had not made a sufficient offer of compensation against losses caused by the males in the flock.

Cherry Valley managing director John Vernam said the company “was doing its very best to be fair” to rectify the problem flock. “As soon as we knew about the problem we sent somebody to remove the male ducks (on 25 June), and engaged in conversation with Mr Chisholm about the cost incurred,” he said.

“Last week he contacted us, highlighting welfare issues because of a lack of feed, so we offered to provide feed for the birds and to then remove the birds from his site, but he declined the offer.”

Mr Vernam also noted that, while the percentage of male ducks had been too high for a commercial laying unit, normal breeder flocks would have between 20%-25% males without any management issues or negative effect on flock welfare or performance.