Last updated 28 September 2020

Increasing evidence is emerging that birds are intelligent, complex creatures, and ducks are certainly no exception to this. Research has shown that ducklings possess the ability to grasp the concept of ‘same’ and ‘different’ as well as being capable of abstract thinking. These abilities have been attributed to many highly intelligent animals, including parrots, crows, humans, and apes. There is indisputable evidence that ducks are sentient creatures, capable of experiencing pain and suffering. 

In Australia, ducks are farmed for their flesh; however, many consumers in Australia purchase down products made from the feathers of ducks farmed overseas. Nearly all commercially sold duck meat in Australia is from ducks that have been raised on intensive farms, where they will never spend time outdoors and are denied the ability to express behaviors that are natural to them.

The Australian duck farming industry is dominated by two intensive producers: Pepe's Ducks PTY LTD, who boast a kill rate of 70,000 ducks per week, and Luv-a-Duck PTY LTD, who claim around 100,000 deaths per week(1)(2)(3). Pepe's Ducks operates production farms in New South Wales, while Luv-a-Duck is based in Victoria(2)(4). In 2011, Luv-a-Duck had a turnover of $AU60 million(3). Overall the industry is worth well over $AU100 million, and the Poultry Hub website states that the industry is expanding at a rate of more than 5% each year(1).


Bill mutilation

It is legal in Australia for ducks to have their bills ‘trimmed’, which is the painful removal of the tip of their beaks. In Australia, farmed animals are exempt from animal protection laws afforded to companion animals like cats and dogs; as a result, it is legal for this procedure to be performed without the use of any pain relief.


Flocks of ducks used for breeding are kept in barren sheds for their entire lives, exposed to artificial lighting, and made to breed almost all year long.

Common health issues

Ducks have naturally weak leg and thigh joints, so when they have access to surface water, they will spend long periods floating, therefore reducing the pressure on their musculoskeletal system.


Ducks are farmed in a very similar way to broiler chickens in Australia; they live in large barren sheds with no enrichment, with stocking densities allowing for as many as 18,000 ducks to be housed in just one shed. 


When ducks reach slaughter weight, workers come to ‘depopulate’ sheds and cram ducks into small crates to truck them to the slaughterhouse. Ducks are often handled very roughly by workers, commonly suffering broken and dislocated bones before they even reach the slaughterhouse.

The Poultry Code

If it Walks Like a Duck, Quacks Like a Duck, Looks Like a Duck, it Must be a Chicken Sounds ridiculous, but ducks are only mentioned in an appendix of a larger poultry code which refers primarily to chickens throughout the document. Dr Roger Meischke, an expert veterinarian stated in a recent report of duck farming in Australia(15) that changes to the Australian duck industry "have brought with t...