Video: Ducks horribly abused at Dutch poultry farm

A video surfaced showing serious abuses at duck breeding companies in the Netherlands, specifically when the animals are being caught and transported. Animal rights organizations are horrified, RTL Nieuws, who published the video, reports.

The video, made by Animal Rights last winter, shows a young duck being stomped to death, ducks being brutally crammed into crates, and being grabbed by their wings and legs. It also shows two employees throwing a young duck between each other in what seems to be a game.

The video contains shocking images and may not be suitable for sensitive viewers:

Robert Molenaar of Animal Rights calls the video nauseating. "What you see is that ducks are thrown into crates, that they are kicked and chased and that they feel a lot of stress, fear and pain through the catch teams' actions. That can not be allowed", he said to the broadcaster.

According to veterinarian Arabella Burgers, this company is breaking the law. "You can not allow the animals to suffer unnecessarily, no extra stress can be caused when catching them or during transport. If that does happen, it involves animal abuse." She thinks the poultry farms in question should be prosecuted or fined. 

Every year around 8 million ducks are slaughtered in the Netherlands, mainly for export to Germany, France and Great Britain. There are about 10 companies on and around the Veluwe that raise ducks, and then transport them to the only duck slaughterhouse in the country - Tomassen Duck-To in Ermelo. 

In a statement Tomassen Duck-To said that the treatment of the ducks may look harsh and clumsy, but that the catching teams are professionals who know how to treat the animals in most cases. The video was shown to the poultry farms in question, but they did not want to respond, according to RTL Nieuws.

Gertjan Tomassen, director of Tomassen Duck-To, told ANP that the claims made against his company are false. According to him, animal abuse is "absolutely not an issue". "All our departments are equipped with camera surveillance, so we know exactly what is happening. What Animal Rights is doing is criminal", he said. According Tomassen, there is constant supervision by Dutch food safety authority NVWA. "There are inspectors around here all day." He is considering taking legal steps against Animal Rights. "We are looking at what we are going to do about this. This is very annoying. I now keep getting calls from angry customers."

Dutch food and consumer product safety authority NVWA called the behavior seen on the video "totally unacceptable". The companies can expect a visit from the regulator soon. "We also want to talk to the sector ourselves", spokesperson Benno Bruggink said to RTL. "To make it clear that this is not acceptable." The rules are clear, he said. "Animals must be transported in such a way that they do not suffer and that no injuries occur. That is clearly the case here."

Companies that buy the ducks' down for pillows and duvets are furious about the state of affairs, according to RTL. "I find that this can not be allowed", a spokesperson for duvet manufacturer Yumeko said to the broadcaster. "Down is a by-product of the meat industry, and in that context we have to think about animal welfare. Bed manufacturer Auping is shocked by the video. "There seems to be evidence of animal suffering and that can not be allowed", a spokesperson said. The company will take immediate action and enter into discussions with the suppliers.

Supermarket chain PLUS announced that it will immediately remove all products from Tomassen from its shelves. "We've seen the images and they speak for themselves. It is unacceptable. We called the supplier and are very shocked", PLUS said, according to ANP. The products that were removed from the shelves will be given to local food banks.