Hingham, Norfolk: Animal Sanctuary Staff Filmed Abusing Ducks

8 Feb

An investigation by Sky News and Hillside Animal Sanctuary has uncovered evidence of free-range ducks being swung by their necks by farm workers.

Exclusive: Farm Staff Caught Abusing Ducks Play video

Video: Exclusive: Farm Staff Caught Abusing Ducks

:: Warning: viewers may find scenes of animal abuse in this video distressing

Secretly-filmed footage taken at Hall Farm in Hingham, Norfolk, shows the birds being herded onto crates to be taken away for slaughter.

But some workers are seen picking ducks up by their necks and swinging them before throwing them back into the flock.

As well as sick and injured birds, we also discovered dead birds left to rot among the flock. 

Those that had been removed were found decomposing in a skip instead of being safely put in bags to avoid contamination.

After viewing the footage, the RSPCA told Sky News the pictures were “absolutely shocking”.

Farm animal welfare expert Dr Marc Cooper said: “Commercially reared meat ducks are flightless, heavy animals and handling them in this manner is likely to cause injury to their neck, legs and body.

“Throwing live ducks is incredibly inhumane and would most certainly have caused suffering through pain or injury to the birds.

“The footage shows unacceptable levels of lameness and injury in the flock. Birds that are ill or injured should receive veterinary attention or be humanely culled without delay.

“Dead birds in a state of decomposition that haven’t been removed presents a risk of disease to the living birds and is indicative of a lack of even the most basic level of stockmanship duties.”

Hall Farm is contracted by producer Green Label, who hired the workers.

The ducks are processed by Gressingham Foods then sold on the shelves of Waitrose as a high-welfare, free-range product.

Consumers pay a premium for free-range products in the belief the animals have been well looked after.

Waitrose told Sky News they were “appalled” by the footage and have suspended the farm from their list of suppliers while they investigate.

“We have sent a vet to the farm to ensure the welfare of other ducks on the site and we are staying very close to this situation,” the store said in a statement.

Hall Farm have launched their own inquiry, adding: “We take matters of animal health and welfare very seriously and are extremely concerned by the footage we have been shown.”

Green Label said they were upset by the film, have suspended the farm workers and are reviewing their procedures.

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