Animals rights group Mercy For Animals (MFA) has just revealed the results of its undercover investigation at one of the largest duck factory farms in the U.S. Hidden camera footage taken at Reichardt Duck Farm in California exposed rampant abuse and neglect of the birds, including ducks suffering from illness and injuries without receiving proper veterinary care, birds trapped in or under the wire cage flooring left to suffer and slowly die, and many ducks that were still conscious as they had their throats slit. In response, the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office investigated the farm, but say that everything appeared to be “in compliance with industry standards.”
Reichardt Duck Farm runs about 200,000 ducks at any one time and processes around one million birds a year. A MFA member was employed at the farm as a barn cleaner in July and August, 2014, and filmed the distressed birds when she was left unsupervised. She states she saw distressed animals from day one of her experience and when she reported their plight to management they were indifferent. MFA’s executive director, Nathan Runkle issued a statement saying, “From the day they hatch until they are violently killed at the slaughterhouse, the short lives of these ducks are filled with misery and deprivation. We are calling on the District Attorney to hold the owners of Reichardt Duck Farm criminally accountable for allowing this culture of cruelty and neglect to fester at its factory farm facility.”
MFA took their findings to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office in August. California-based veterinarian and animal welfare expert Dr. Armaiti May reviewed the graphic undercover video footage and provided her expert opinion in support of the claims: “I was very alarmed to witness severe neglect and cruelty inflicted on ducks at this facility. No responsible facility could allow such blatant animal cruelty and neglect. Birds experience pain and suffering in a very similar way to humans and other mammals. Their suffering must be taken seriously. The treatment of the ducks at this facility is completely unacceptable,” she said.
However, in late October the Sherriff’s Office visited the farm, along with two vets and a waterfowl expert. There, according to Sheriff’s Sgt. Cecile Focha, they found, “Preliminarily, the business was considered to be in compliance with industry standards and no arrests were made. There was nothing that shocked anyone or caused an arrest or citation. We’ve never had a complaint there.” The investigation into the allegations continues and the results will be submitted to the Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office for review. But if the graphic images in the video above are an indication of “industry standards,” it seems that it’s those standards themselves that require a serious review.
Photos by Mercy for Animals