RSPCA welfare standards
for domestic/common ducks
25 February 2015
* indicates an amendment
R 1.15 * Overhead shelter (natural and/or artificial) must:
a) be of sound construction, secure and not pose any welfare risks, including injury, to the birds
b) be of sufficient height to ensure all birds can adopt a normal standing position, with sufficient head
space, under it
c) offer adequate protection from inclement weather and overhead predators
d) be provided at an area of at least 8m2 per 1,000 birds
e) be available at all times, including from when the birds first have access to the range
f) be distributed appropriately to encourage full use of the range
g) be positioned at varying distances from the house.
Calculation of the overhead shade/shelter area referred to in R 1.15 is based on the actual and
accessible amount of cover provided underneath. For example, hedgerows may be included
if they can provide shade at all times of day and there is enough room underneath for birds to
access freely. Where trees are deciduous or immature, other forms of shade/shelter will need
to be provided during the period in which they do not provide sufficient cover. Trailers and
simple constructions of four downward posts with a solid roof can provide acceptable forms
of artificial shelter.
R 1.16 * At least 25 percent of the shade and shelter provisions must be positioned within 20 metres of the house.
R 1.17 * The range area must be actively managed to:
a) encourage birds outside, away from the building, and to use the range area fully
b) prevent and/or manage muddy/worn areas
c) minimise any build up of parasites or other disease causing organisms.
The aims of active range management are to encourage birds to use all of the range, help
maintain vegetation quality (including areas under shelters/cover) and offer protection and
shelter. In addition to the existing standards, ways of satisfying R 1.17 may include:
provision of a variety of types of both natural and artificial shade/shelters
additional provision of well-managed areas of natural enrichment, which may
include suitable feed crops, herbs, trees and fruit bushes
managing muddy/worn areas to aid recovery and prevent it reoccurring in the same
area, e.g. improving drainage and rotation of any artificial shade/shelters.
Taking individual flock behaviour into account: some flocks may be reluctant to range and
therefore need additional encouragement by, for example, providing a 'corridor' of shade/
shelter and natural cover from the house out onto the further reaches of the range.
R 1.18 Strict management procedures must be implemented to reduce the risk of disease outbreak, particularly
where a large number of birds are kept within a certain area.
R 1.19 Where provided, ponds must be well maintained to prevent a build up of stagnant water with decaying
Filtering out plant debris and providing good aeration will help to avoid problems such as
botulism in ponds.