Video: Concerns after duck abuse caught on camera

A SUFFOLK company involved in the processing of poultry last night said it was “concerned” by secretly shot footage of one of its suppliers abusing ducks.

The video shows workers at Hall Farm, Hingham, in Norfolk, grabbing the animals by their necks, swinging them and then throwing them while being herded into a crate for later slaughter.

The ducks are processed by Gressingham Foods, whose headquarters are at Debach, near Woodbridge,

Last night a spokesman for the company, which also has an office at Redgrave, near Diss, made it clear that they had nothing to do with the rearing of the ducks.

He said they were concerned by the footage but declined to comment further until an investigation was complete.

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Hall Farm supplies poultry to Green Label Farms, which has now launched its own investigation.

A spokesman said: “We would like to make it clear that this is a contract farm that supplies birds to Green Label Farms.

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“Having been farming poultry for over 40 years we take matters of animal health and welfare extremely seriously and are extremely concerned and upset by this footage. Our priority is always the welfare of the birds.

“We have launched an inquiry to review procedures and the farm has been suspended until the investigation has been completed. As part of this process we have also suspended all of the contract catchers who worked on the farm.”

After being passed to Gressingham Foods the ducks are sold to supermarket chain Waitrose as a high welfare product.

A spokesman said Hall Farm had now been dumped as a supplier.

“We are appalled by the footage taken at Hall Farm and as soon as we saw it we suspended the supplier and sent in a vet to ensure the welfare of the ducks remaining on the farm,” he said. “Following an immediate and detailed investigation, we have now ended our relationship with the supplier and they no longer supply Waitrose. The behaviour seen on the film is totally unacceptable and completely goes against the high welfare standards Waitrose expects of its farmers.”

The covertly shot footage was filmed by members of Hillside Animal Sanctuary, based at Frettenham, near Coltishall, which mainly cares for animals rescued from the farming industry. It’s video of live turkeys being beaten with sticks at a Bernard Matthews farm at Felthorpe led to the prosecution of two turkey catchers in 2006.

On receiving the video last month, the RSPCA sent an inspector and a representative from Trading Standards to the farm.

The charity is now working with its legal team to identify the individuals responsible with a view to prosecute.

Dr Marc Cooper, an animal welfare expert with the RSPCA, said the mistreatment of the ducks was “undoubtedly a criminal offence”.

He added: “The action of throwing the ducks is not only incredibly inhumane but would most certainly have caused suffering through pain and/or injury to the birds.”

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