Walk for Farm Animals: Canadian Foie Gras Investigation

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Walk for Farm Animals: Canadian Foie Gras Investigation

Since Liberation BC’s 6th annual Walk for Farm Animals to benefit Farm Sanctuary is coming up on September 29th, it’s time to get to know just a few of the some of the approximately 900 animals who live at Farm Sanctuary’s three shelters. (It’s also time to register and get started fundraising!)

This is part of a series of farm animal stories on our blog.

rescued foie gras duck Kohl

Kohl, rescued from a foie gras farm

The entire Canadian foie gras industry is located in Quebec, which is where Farm Sanctuary decided to focus their undercover investigations.  Every year in Quebec, 500,000 ducks are killed for foie gras; that is, if they even make it to the slaughterhouse.  The process of force-feeding these birds is so violent and brutal that many of them die as a result, choking on their own vomit, suffering ruptured esophagi and anal hemmorhaging, and more.  In fact, pre-slaughter mortality rates are even higher than on most factory farms.  At one foie gras producer, workers were even issued a bonus if they managed to kill fewer than 50 of their 500 assigned ducks before the birds were to be sent to slaughter.  Additionally, many ducks raised for foie gras go blind; as waterfowl, they require access to water to clean themselves properly, but foie gras farms provide none.  Learn more about foie gras.

Below is a video of Farm Sanctuary’s undercover investigations at Palmex, Inc, Elevages Perigord, and Aux Champs d’Elisee, the three largest foie gras producers in Canada:

Fortunately, at least three lucky ducks escaped: Kohl, Harper, and Burton were rescued from foie gras farms and now live safely at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter.  Unfortunately, all three will forever bear the scars of the severe abuse they suffered:

  • Kohl came to Farm Sanctuary after weeks of intensive force-feeding unable to walk or stand, and incapable of even eating without caregiver assistance. He also suffered from severe respiratory distress because his abnormally enlarged liver was putting pressure on his other organs, which in turned pressed on his lungs, making it difficult for him to breathe…his legs will always remain deformed because of the numerous untreated leg bone breaks he sustained during his time in production, and he will never be able to walk or swim like a normal duck.
  • Harper arrived at the shelter missing his left eye…He too suffered from hepatic lipidosis (or fatty liver syndrome) which caused him to have difficulty breathing. In addition, the left side of his skull was malformed and depressed more than the right, which gave his head an abnormal tilt. As a result of the protein-deficient diet fed to foie gras ducks, Harper’s potassium and uric acid levels were also dangerously low…[his] bill was malformed and he was missing patches of feathers. He has permanent damage to his sinus, most likely caused by trauma; this same trauma also likely resulted in the loss of his eye.
  • Burton arrived at Farm Sanctuary stumbling on weakened legs under the weight of his force-fed physique. An extremely enlarged liver, along with excessive mucus in his upper respiratory tract, caused Burton to wheeze through his beak as he breathed. Along with Kohl and Harper, Burton had to be tube-fed formula at first because he could not eat on his own. (more)

Burton eventually healed enough to join Farm Sanctuary’s main flock, while Kohl and Harper live in a special, customized area that best suits their needs.  Kohl remains severely disabled, but caregivers provide him with swim therapy so that he can float freely in his own pond.  And though the birds will never be completely rehabilitated, they now lively safely, with access to sunshine and water and friends.

three rescued foie gras ducks

Kohl, Harper, and Burton, free at last.

Liberation BC is proud to support Farm Sanctuary by participating in the annual Walk for Farm Animals.  Won’t you join us?


2 Comments

AAA

September 10, 2012 at 9:36 am

You really should do more research before you blindly start the over-zealous crusade.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/12/the-physiology-of-foie-why-foie-gras-is-not-u.html

You have your choice to be a vagan, but don’t “FORCE” other to follow your footstep simply because they are different.

Becci

September 10, 2012 at 11:47 am

Hi AAA,

Please check out our info page on foie gras to learn more about the faulty scientific arguments laid out by the food blog you posted:

http://liberationbc.org/issues/foie_gras

By the way, when someone attempts to justify foie gras by comparing the swallowing ability of a dabbling duck or a goose (both of which are vegetarians or nearly so) with that of a bird like a cormorant, that should serve as a big red flag. Cormorants do indeed choke down “large spiky fish”, but they are in a completely different family than that of ducks and geese and share almost nothing in common with them other than the fact that they’re all birds that spend most of their time in the water. (As members of the Phalacrocoracidae family and the Neoaves infraclass–as opposed to Galloanserae–cormorants are actually more closely related to pigeons and hummingbirds than they are to ducks and geese!) The only ducks that DO swallow big fish, incidentally, are divers, who are in a different subfamily than dabbling ducks–and no diving ducks are used in foie gras production.

Additionally, while the particular farm that the blog writer visited is marginally less cruel than the average foie gras farm–though certainly not as ethical or humane as it purports to be, based on the article itself–it does not negate the reality of the foie gras industry as a whole, nor does it justify its existence.

Thanks for commenting.

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