Tag Archives: Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Mystery over dead ducks at town that inspired famous Sherlock Holmes tale

A quiet market town famed for its community of monks and a local legend that is said to have inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Hound of the Baskervilles is embroiled in its own murder mystery.

A population of Muscovy ducks living in a popular park in the centre of the town has been hit by an unidentified illness  Photo: Alamy

Residents of Buckfastleigh, close to Buckfast Abbey on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, Devon, fear they have a poisoner in their midst.

A population of Muscovy ducks living in a popular park in the centre of the town has been hit by an unidentified illness that has killed 17 of the birds, leaving many to suspect foul play.

Tensions in Buckfastleigh, which has a population of just over 3,000, have escalated in recent months over the presence of the ducks in the town’s Orchard Millennium Green.

While many residents and visitors enjoy feeding the animals as they stroll around the park, others feel they are a menace whose droppings are ruining the surroundings.

Now the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are investigating the deaths and experts are conducting an autopsy on one of the bodies in an attempt to get to the bottom of the unexplained deaths.

Andrew Rudgley, chairman of the Orchard Millennium Green Trust which runs the park, said initial tests suggested the ducks may have been the victim of a virus.

But he added: “I can’t honestly say that there are not people here who would like to get rid of them.
“There is a degree of conflict between some members of the community over the ducks.

“We have been told by the RSPCA that it is probably Duck Viral Enteritis but we are still waiting for the final test results.”

Local residents, however, fear there is a more dastardly culprit after months of acrimony over the presence of the animals.

While some claim the animals are a nuisance that create a mess in the park and make them unwilling to bring their children there, others have launched a petition to help keep the ducks in the town, which they say are an important tourist attraction.

Buckfastleigh is a quiet market town that lies beside the Benedictine monastery at Buckfast. A story surrounding the death of Richard Cabel, Lord of the Manor of Brook, west of the town, is rumoured to have been the basis of the Sherlock Holmes mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Pam Barrett, who lives near to the green, said: “We’ve looked after many of these ducks since they were hatched and we’re mystified.

“Two weeks ago one of the female ducks was fine in the morning and by that night she had died.

“That was followed by a drake the next day and two days later another.

“We know the illnesses they get and they were dying in a really peculiar fashion we’ve never seen before.

“We’ve tried treating them at the vets and with antibiotics and fluids, but it hasn’t worked.
“It could potentially be a poisoning – naturally occurring or deliberately introduced.

“We had one shot through the neck a couple of weeks ago.

“I was nursing another duck the other day waiting for the RSPCA and I got a huge amount of abuse from some people for being there.”

Source: http://newsofbird.com/2013/05/24/mystery-over-dead-ducks-at-town-that-inspired-famous-sherlock-holmes-tale/

Study: Pre-stun shocks affect meat quality and profits

A recent scientific study has shown that pre-stun shocks in commercial broiler processing significantly affect carcase and meat quality as well as bird welfare.

Study: Pre-stun shocks affect meat quality and profits

Research undertaken by the University of Bristol studied the incidence and effect of pre-stun shocks in a commercial broiler processing plant using an electrical waterbath stunning system, the most commonly used system in the UK.

The study identified a significant level of pre-stun shocks, particularly in lighter, more active birds, correlated with a significant level of adverse effect on carcase and meat quality. Pre-stun shocks were also seen to be a contributor to the incidence of mis-stuns (by causing birds to ‘fly’ the waterbath).

The results of the study indicate not only a serious welfare problem but also a significant financial burden for producers of broiler chickens stunned using the electrical waterbath.

report, published in Animal Welfare, the journal of the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW), states “EC Regulation (1099/2009) stipulates…that for electrical waterbath stunning a key consideration is the prevention of electrical shocks before stunning. The results reported here add very strong commercial and economic arguments to this legislative welfare requirement, entirely justifying any financial output that would be required to improve controlled entry of birds into a waterbath stunner…(pre-stun shocks) can be prevented by careful waterbath entry design and modification. It should be entirely possible to avoid (pre-stun shocks) in commercial processing plants and there is a strong economic reason to do so.”

Chicken Out!

What is Chicken Out!?

hugh-with_chickenHere at The Natural Poultry Farmer, we are very keen to have chickens kept in an open free ranging environment and to move away from the cruel intensive battery farming methods of old.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall launched the national Chicken Out! campaign because he felt so strongly about the welfare of  chickens. The River Cottage TV series on Channel 4 highlighted the unacceptable conditions in which most table birds are reared and Hugh is putting pressure on the UK industry to raise their standard

More and more consumers are voting with their basket and choosing chicken meat from higher welfare systems. When you’re shopping for chicken, always look for chicken labelled free-range, organic, RSPCA Freedom Food or higher welfare indoo

Around 90% of UK chickens are reared for meat in standard intensive systems. This chicken is usually the cheapest on the supermarket shelf and the meat found in most sandwiches and restaurant meals.

These chickens are farmed in barren and crowded sheds with no outdoor access, no natural daylight and little room to move freely. These birds have been selectively bred to reach slaughter weight in around six weeks, these unnaturally fast growth rates result in millions of chickens suffering from painful leg disorders, breathing disabilities, ammonia burns and dying of lung or heart failure.

Through the Chicken Out! campaign, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Compassion in World Farming are reaching out to consumers, politicians, producers and retailers to put an end to the intensive ‘factory’ farming of chickens.

Chicken Out! wants clear and honest labelling

Check the labels, packaging can be misleading

Labelling can be very misleading and phrases such as ‘farm fresh’ and ‘farm assured’ do not always represent higher welfare systems. Unless the label states free-range, organic or RSPCA Freedom Food, the chicken you’re buying has probably been reared in intensive conditions. We want clear information on the packaging of the chicken meat so you can make the best, informed choice.

Chicken Out! is reaching the government

We want the government to take the welfare of chickens seriously by introducing legislation that meets the behavioural needs of the millions of chickens. Over 270 MPs recently signed a Parliamentary motion calling for improved welfare standards and clear labelling of chicken meat.

Your choice could improve the lives of millions of chickens!  To find out more: http://www.chickenout.tv/about-campaign.html