Commercial meat ducks may be reared in indoor or outdoor systems. When the birds reach the desired weight at around 42 to 56 days old they are sent for slaughter.
The majority of commercial meat ducks reared in the UK are reared in indoor systems. Typically, several thousand birds are raised together within a building. Straw is usually provided to cover the floor.
Ducks are given specially formulated diets and are provided with access to water for drinking. However, farmed ducks may not be given access to an open water source for bathing, or if they do have an open water source, this may not be suitable.
Some ducks, particularly Barbary ducks, may have the ends of their bills trimmed to try to reduce the risk of any damage to other birds caused by pecking. However, the most commonly used breed of meat duck in the UK - the Pekin - is not beak trimmed.
Birds are provided with housing similar to that described for indoor production, with the addition of access to an outdoor range area during the day.
End of rearing
Once birds reach the desired weight for slaughter of around 3.1 to 3.5 kilogrammes, usually at around 42 to 56 days of age, they are caught, placed in transport crates and transported to an abattoir for slaughter.
Numbers of farmed ducks
Around 14.3 million ducks (primarily a Pekin cross breed) were reared for meat in the UK in 2012¹.
¹FAOSTATS. (2014) Production: Livestock primary [online]. Rome. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Statistics Division. [Accessed 13.10.14]
The most commonly used breed of duck in commercial meat production in the UK is the domestic/common duck, in particular the Pekin.
Find out about some of the key welfare issues for meat ducks.