On a cold morning in late November, around 70 Australian animal rights vegan activists from six states gathered in the woods neighbouring the Luv-A-Duck slaughterhouse in the small town of Nhill, Victoria, watching unseen as transport trucks arrived and unloaded crate after crate of ducks.
As the slaughter began for the day, the vegan activists calmly entered the dock, carrying in four shell pools and placing them on the floor near the crates, filling them with water from a nearby pressure hose as workers watched on helplessly, vastly outnumbered.
Ducks were then carefully removed from the crates and placed into the water - the first chance to swim in their short, seven-week lives. Despite being aquatic animals, most duck farms in Australia and elsewhere raise ducks in large warehouses without access to surface water, which leads to a wide array of health issues including blindness, lameness and death.
Within moments of being placed in the pools, their natural instincts kicked in and they began dipping, swimming, dunking, grooming and joyfully playing in the water.
For a while, the slaughtering continued, giving activists an opportunity to film the condition of the ducks - many arriving injured and bleeding, or dead - and the process of shackling and dipping into an electric stun bath.?
Footage from the slaughterhouse
Hidden camera footage from the slaughterhouse released earlier in the year by Animal Liberation, as seen in the documentary Dominion, revealed that the stun bath often fails to render the birds unconscious, leading many to feel the full pain of having their throats cut before ultimately drowning in scalding water. The footage was provided at the time to state authorities, who ignored it.
To prevent further filming, the slaughter line was soon halted, and several workers were sent home. After approximately two hours, the activists advised police and management that they would be willing to leave if allowed to take with them those ducks they had given water, rather than having them sent back to the kill line, but the request was refused.
Risking arrest, the activists chose to grab the 19 ducks and make a run for the trees, evading police and workers and eventually reaching the road through neighbouring paddocks.
The 19 ducks are now living happily with experienced carers.
The occupation was organised by Aussie Farms and Bear Witness Australia. Spokesperson for both organizations, Lissy Jayne, explained that they were there 'to draw attention not just to this particular footage, but to the inherent cruelty of an industry in which aquatic animals are farmed without access to surface water, and the myth of humane, ethical slaughter. Since 2011, a total of 19 slaughterhouses across Australia have been exposed for animal cruelty by hidden cameras, all visible at www.aussieabattoirs.com'.
"After receiving the footage earlier this year, Animal Liberation provided it to Primesafe and the RSPCA, but no action has been taken, suggesting everything captured in the footage is acceptable and standard practise industry-wide. We believe most consumers would be horrified to know that these aquatic animals are raised over just seven weeks without access to surface water, then violently thrown into crates and trucked to the slaughterhouse where many have their throats cut while conscious."