AL Demands Investigation into Mass Mortality

Media Release Mass Mortality

Leading Australian animal rights organisation calls for urgent investigation into alleged duck farm mass mortality

SYDNEY, 10 October 2019: The alleged cover-up of a mass mortality event at an intensive duck production facility operated by Pepe’s Ducks has triggered leading Australian animal rights organisation, Animal Liberation, to publicly pressure authorities to act after sustained attempts to launch an investigation were ignored. 

“We are extremely concerned about this mass mortality and the suffering and death of many thousands of baby ducks. We are equally outraged by the lack of priority being given to investigating this incident by the responsible authorities. We know it happened; what we don’t know is the exactly how many of these duckings died,” confirmed Lynda Stoner, Animal Liberation’s Chief Executive. “We know they died either by freezing to death or succumbing to heat stress. We want authorities to investigate this matter immediately so we can know where and how these bodies were disposed of. We need to know why an incident of such a serious nature was not reported”. 

Repeated communications to the regional Hilltops council, state MP’s and the Minister for Agriculture have largely been ignored. Efforts for answers are being stonewalled by those paid by the public to be accountable and answerable. Through the organisation’s Regional Campaigns Coordinator, Animal Liberation continues to pressure the relevant authorities, agencies and their Ministers for truth and accountability. 

“This inaction reflects a disappointing attitude and response from government and it’s indicative of the broader political environment surrounding animal issues at the moment,” Lynda Stoner said. “Coupled with moves to instil repressive American Ag-Gag-style legislation in Australia, and the recently proposed NSW Right to Farm bill that would severely limit our ability to protest against cover-ups like this, the current climate essentially legislates for an unimpeded right to harm. That such a serious biosecurity issue has been effectively covered up by those same people calling for crack- downs on activists exposing cruelty to animals simply beggars belief”. 

Previous exposés released by Animal Liberation have revealed a culture of cruelty in the Australian duck farming industry. The organisation maintains that the industry is inherently cruel and unsustainable. It is also notoriously monopolised and secretive. Ducks go into sheds as day-old chicks and are kept in intensely over-crowded environments where they must compete for food and water. At around seven weeks of age, they are roughly handled during catching. Recent footage revealed workers repeatedly throwing and kicking live ducks during this process. This is followed by long- distance transport. At the slaughterhouse, ducks that survive the journey are shackled upside down and immersed into electrified water intended to stun them before their throats are cut. During their short lives, they are given no access to open water. 

“While our government continues to market well-crafted and carefully constructed spin about animal welfare being such a high priority, when it counts their behaviour and actions reflect anything but,” Roscoe Osborne, Animal Liberation’s Campaigns Manager added. “They are very accomplished at talking up “biosecurity” risks, but when it comes to real threats and incidents like these, they are hapless and go to ground. With the mass mortality at Pepe’s Ducks, thousands of juvenile animals suffered and died. Yet, the local community and the broader public – some of whom may pay for Pepe’s – have been kept in the dark. This incident clearly includes serious animal welfare issues and demands an urgent, independent investigation”. 

As inherently aquatic birds, ducks are denied their most fundamental welfare necessity with the provision of water to swim and groom themselves in industrial farming operations like Pepe’s Ducks. They are bred to grow so quickly and unnaturally that their legs often can’t support their body weight. Many die slowly and painfully before they even reach slaughter weight. Recent reviews into the welfare policies applicable to poultry failed to advise providing ducks with meaningful access to open water sources. 

“It’s 2019 and we still don’t have a duck specific Code of Practice to cater to this species unique needs. Animal Liberation will continue to demand a duck specific Code to expose this cruel industry and push politicians to establish an Independent Office of Animal Welfare. Our comprehensive Like a duck out of water exposé and report clearly outlines each of the evidence-based issues associated with the duck industry and yet still, governments’ have failed to act”. 

Contact: Roscoe Osborne | (02) 9262 3221 |