Common health issues

Last updated 17 September 2020

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. On intensive farms, where ducks are denied access to surface water, they are forced to support the weight of their bodies for the entirety of their short lives; as a result, many suffer from dislocated joints, broken bones, and lameness.

Ducks have been genetically manipulated and selectively bred over many years to grow at an unnaturally fast rate. This has meant that significant pressure is placed on their juvenile skeletal systems as they have inadequate bone formation to support their huge bodies. Ducks on intensive farms commonly become stuck on their backs, unable to get up, where some will perish without the ability to access food and water. 

Without access to surface water, ducks are unable to adequately clean their eyes, feathers, and nostrils. As a result, many suffer from eye infections, which largely go untreated.

The most common infection suffered by ducks on intensive farms is caused by a bacteria called Riemerella anatipestifer. Infected ducks can experience difficulty breathing, tremors, paralysis, convulsions, and death. The skin on ducks’ feet is extremely soft and delicate and becomes damaged easily in factory farms. Riemerella anatipestifer is believed to infect ducks through lesions on their feet or through the respiratory route.