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Volume 467: debated on Thursday 15 November 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what changes he proposes to make in respect of the rules and regulations for keeping and breeding ducks for human consumption; what assessment he has made of the welfare of ducks being so bred; and if he will make a statement. (162379)

[holding answer 12 November 2007]: The Animal Welfare Act 2006 protects the welfare of animals on-farm and makes it an offence to cause suffering to any animal. The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 lay down requirements in respect of general welfare, inspection, housing and feeding for all farm animals. The welfare of ducks is also covered by a specific code of recommendations. Flock-keepers are required by law to have access to and be familiar with this code, which encourages high standards of husbandry.

Animal Health (AH) enforces the welfare legislation and carries out regular inspections at farm premises to check the welfare of livestock. AH also investigates all complaints and allegations about poor welfare on-farm.

DEFRA has funded a three-year research project to assess the welfare of ducks. The work involved a comprehensive assessment of different commercial systems currently in use in this country. The project is due to report back soon.