Food and water
RSPCA welfare standards
for domestic/common ducks
7 February 2015
* indicates an amendment
FW 2.17.1* From no later than 21 days of age, the open water facilities provided to satisfy FW 2.13 must allow full body
a) measure at least 50cm x 100cm (internal measurements)
b) for every 100 ducks, provide a minimum of 833cm2 of useable open water facility area
c) have a water depth of at least 10cm throughout the facility (except for areas where ramps are provided:
see FW 2.17.2).
If birds are unable to freely access certain areas of the facility due to, for example, the presence
of a ball cock, then this area will not count towards the required space allowance.
It is strongly advised that more than the minimum amount of space is given so that more
open water facilities are provided. This will help reduce the demand on each individual facility,
helping keep the water in each facility cleaner for longer.
In a study where ducks were given the choice between pools with different depths of water,
ducks choose to spend more time using water that was 10cm deep compared to 30cm deep,
and spent a similar amount of time using water that was 10 or 20cm deep. However, they used
the different depths of water for different activities. Ducks spent more time dabbling in water
that was 10cm deep, and more time floating and swimming in water that was 20 and 30cm deep.
Therefore, ideally, a facility that varies in depth from 10 up to 20, or even 30, cm should be
provided, as this allows for a wider range of behaviours to be performed (by way of example,
see Appendix 3, Fig. 1).
Modified, hard-wearing, plastic plant pot trays, which can be obtained from garden centres,
can be modified to make suitable open water facilities.
FW 2.17.2* Where necessary, for facilities that allow full body access, ramps can be placed within the facility to help
young birds exit the water (see Appendix 3, Fig. 2). Where used, such ramps must:
a) only be provided where the birds have difficulty exiting the water facility. This is likely to depend on
the flock, and must therefore not be provided routinely.
b) be removed at no later than 28 days of age
c) only be placed at the narrow end/s of the facility
d) not extend out from the side/s of the facility by more than 12.5cm.
FW 2.18 * Open water facilities that permit full body access must:
a) ensure that any ball cocks are covered, to prevent birds becoming stuck under them
b) ensure that any ball cocks are mounted at the side of the facility only
c) with the exception of any ball cock, allow the birds to use the whole area of the facility unhindered
d) be designed and managed to enable the birds to enter and exit the water freely and easily.
FW 2.18 c) is to, for example, prevent the use of bars being placed across the top of the facility.