A FREE range duck egg farmer will try to give away 3,000 of his ducks this weekend after a dispute with his supplier left him with crippling debt.
Ian Chisholm, from the Fairtrade Egg Company, says if new owners cannot be found then the animals may have to be killed as he cannot afford to feed them.
“If we don’t get rid of the ducks this weekend we have a serious problem," said Mr Chisholm, whose Norton Field Farm is just off the A414 between Writtle and Ongar.
“We have a £30,000 feed bill to settle with the feed company, and, in the interest of the birds, we can’t carry on.
“If people want a duck, they just need to turn up. Ducks don’t necessarily need a pond, just good access to water. They can be friendly – you can make them your friends, there’s no doubt.”
Mr Chisholm, who is hoping that appeals on twitter and facebook will boost the amount of potential duck adopters, said he was facing a direct loss of around £70,000 after his duck supplier, Cherry Valley, delivered a high percentage of male ducks.
“We paid for 4,000 female day-old ducks, but, when they came into lay at 25-weeks-old we noticed there were males in the population, around 450 of them, which is a large portion of the ducks,” he explained.
“The problem with having too many males is that they end up over mating the females, and killing them. The consequences of this are unbelievable. Due to the amount of males, I have lost a significant amount of egg production; around 800 eggs a day.”
Mr Chisholm says he has lost so much money on the 450 male ducks that he now cannot afford to keep them.
Chisholm confirmed that he was considering taking legal action against Cherry Valley, who he believes have failed to offer adequate compensation for the loss of egg production.
But because of the time it would take to reach court, he says his first priority is to give them away.
He admitted: “There is a possibility they would have to be killed if we can’t re-home them; in the interest of the birds, we can’t allow them to starve to death, we just can’t let that happen.”
Cherry Valley was unavailable for comment.
If you wish to collect a duck, the farm in Norton Field, Norton Lane, is open from 10am to 5pm today, Saturday and Sunday.
For more information call 01277 362414 or email firstname.lastname@example.org