RSPCA welfare standards
for domestic/common ducks
22 February 2015
* indicates an amendment
The RSPCA believes that free-range conditions can offer benefits to bird welfare, provided the
range area is well managed and the birds are offered suitable protection against inclement
weather and predators. Where range is provided, the following standards are to be met in
addition to all other relevant standards in other sections of this document.
Buildings should be positioned to ensure the most efficient utilisation of the range area by the
birds. A building that is positioned near to the range boundary would require birds to travel a
greater distance to make full use of the range area than a building that is positioned within the
centre of the range.
R 1.1 Birds must be introduced onto the range as soon as they are mature enough.
For birds being sold as free-range it is a legal requirement for them to have had, during at least
half their lifetime, continuous daytime access to the range. The minimum legal slaughter age
for free-range Pekin ducks is 49 days.
R 1.2 Consideration must be given to the weather conditions before young birds are introduced to the range
and, if necessary, this must be delayed to avoid cold stress.
R 1.3 Ducks kept in free-range systems must have continuous daytime access to the range.
R 1.4 * Popholes must:
a) be approximately evenly distributed along the entire length of the building
b) ensure birds have ready access to the range/veranda
c) ensure birds can access the range/veranda unhindered.
R 1.5 * Each pophole, including those leading through to a veranda, must be:
a) a minimum of 45cm high, but in any case the height of the pophole must ensure that the tallest birds
have sufficient clearance between their head and the top of the pophole to adopt a normal standing
position under the pophole
b) a minimum of 50cm wide to allow the passage of more than one duck at any one time.