Help ducks this Easter

27 03 2010

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Below is information from Viva! about this latest campaign. If you are not a member of Viva! I would urge you to join them…

Last year we asked you for funds to finance our undercover teams’ investigation into the lives and deaths of ducks. You provided it and we did it. Spearheading the team was our undercover investigator who secreted a camera in the company overalls to fi lm everything that happens inside one of Europe’s biggest duck producers. They supply supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s and kill birds for the RSPCA’s so-called Freedom Foods assurance scheme.

In an incredibly brave operation, our investigator had to be constantly vigilant not to be caught filming, always needed a prepared excuse to be in certain parts of the factory, had to be careful not to ask too many questions.

We have now finished viewing and editing the hours of harrowing footage obtained. It records the entire cycle of death to which 15 million UK ducks are subjected each year – from their arrival in crates to their despatch in plastic wrappers.

The footage starts with the crates of ducks, one piled on top of another, being ferried by fork-lift truck to the start of a noisy, clanking, impersonal, mechanical production line of death where people shout to be heard. The birds are subdued and appear confused as this is the fi rst time that many of them have seen daylight or felt fresh air. Until now, most of the birds have had their lives circumscribed by the four walls of a stinking shed.

The panic begins as they are grabbed from the crates and their legs are slammed into the dangling shackles of a constantly moving conveyor with not a space between them.

The people doing the shackling look like aliens – cloaked from head to toe, their faces hidden by breathing equipment and goggles.

The distressed noise of the ducks’ quacking now swells to a crescendo and almost drowns out the sound of the machinery.

The conveyor moves relentlessly along, the ducks flapping and calling out in fear while a human voice can be heard shouting to the aliens: “Faster, faster!” The aliens increase their speed, grabbing more birds from the crates and slamming them into the shackles, one after another like automatons. This is what they do all day long every day.

In their rush to keep up production, several birds are dropped on the floor and they run to cower against the impersonal metal of the machinery. They look utterly bewildered and huddle together. Their reprieve is short lived as, without a second thought, the aliens grab them and thrust them into the shackles. One of the men pauses before doing so, thrusting the duck towards the face of our investigator, directly at the hidden camera. This is what passes for humour in the death factory.

The line of ducks and their filthy breast feathers clanks up and away into the depths of the building, the birds flapping and calling out until they disappear behind a screen.

When they emerge the other side they are silent and still, water dripping from their beaks. They have been electrocuted in a charged water bath.

A worker awaits by a blood-soaked trough with a small, sharp knife in his hand and assiduously cuts the throat of every passing bird.

Clank, clank, clank – the conveyor continues, dipping the little bodies into scalding water before they enter an enclosed box where rotating rubber fingers flail the feathers from them. They emerge pathetic looking and utterly naked.

Clank, clank, clank – the bodies enter a piece of machinery which someone proudly designed for this specific purpose; it holds the bird’s body still while stretching the neck to a point where the head is torn off.

The eviscerator also relies on technology – a pneumatic wand. He sucks out the intestines with it and then reverses the procedure, spitting them into a bin. Suck, spit; suck, spit all day long.

The sequel to this relentless nightmare is an end product devoid of all that went before. A taut plastic bag morphing body, wings and legs into an unidentifi able ball of flesh.

A union jack and a Freedom Foods symbol try to imbue it with a ridiculous sense of pride and printed words turn factory farming into poetry: “Willow Farm ducks live in spacious straw bedded barns where they are free to roam”. Free to roam from one wall to another!

This then is duck slaughter in Britain today. We want people to know about it. We have edited together a short film on which patron and actor Martin Shaw will do the voice over. A sympathetic ad agency is making an ad free of charge, again with Martin doing the voiceover. We want it aired.

We need both to cover the country through social networking sites and we hope our supporters will email everyone in their address book! We need to target potential duck eaters with Viva! literature and we have to keep up our pressure on the UK media to ensure that consumers see past the words on the packaging.

Please again support our campaign – a campaign which has been spectacularly successful so far, with duck deaths crashing from 22 million to 15 million a year. Please give what you can so we can continue to expose the barbarity of modern duck ‘farming’ and continue with our determination to show what life – and death – is like for these beautiful, essentially wild animals.

Viva! Will never stop fighting cruelty to these animals.





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