Taxpayers Fund £300,000 Study to Prove ‘Ducks like Rain’ A three year study by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has been criticised for wasting government funds.

The study was carried out by students at the University of Oxford. Ducks were given the choice between a pond, a water trough, a nipple drinker and a shower. The ducks usually chose the shower. The scientists surmised that ducks do not necessarily like to swim and enjoy being in the rain.

Critics say that this is obvious and the study was a waste of time, reports the Guardian.
The Devon chairman of the National Farmers Union, Anthony Rew, says that the study is “quackers”. He says that DEFRA need to get out of London and see how the countryside really works in order to produce policies that are practical and cost effective. He says that if they had asked a farmer they would have come to the same conclusion.

Susie Squire, of the TaxPayers' Alliance says that the results of the study are common sense and it was “bonkers” for the government to have given so much funding, reports the Daily Mail.

Tory MP Geoffrey Cox, who sits on the board of EFRA, the Commons committee that monitors DEFRA says that it is always necessary for the public to have some comic relief and it is not a surprise that DEFRA have obliged. His colleague on EFRA, Liberal Democrat MP Dan Rogerson says that the study proves conclusively that rain really is nice weather for ducks but that DEFRA face serious shortfalls in their budget and the money used on this study could have gone to better use.

DEFRA, backed by the British Poultry Council defend the study saying that it is important for duck welfare. They say that there is a problem with providing ponds for farmed ducks. The ponds become dirty, quickly and there are health risks. The study proves that ducks do not need to swim and a rain shower may be sufficient for their wellbeing. DEFRA say that they are disappointed that a serious study into the welfare of farmed ducks has been misrepresented as a study on whether ducks like water.

Professor of animal behaviour at Oxford, Marian Stamp Dawkins says that ducks would be expected to spend most of their time on the pond rather than in the shower. She says that the ducks spent more time drinking from, washing and resting under the shower than in the other facilities. Now she says that further studies must be done to find out how often they like to shower.

20/05/09

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