The reality of foie gras production

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The reality of foie gras production


many ducks

A foie gras farm in Quebec.

Foie gras is a shockingly cruel industry which relies on the deliberate infliction of a painful and debiliating disease in order to create the grossly enlarged, swollen liver so prized by gourmands.

24 million ducks and geese die for foie gras, 500,000 of which are in Canada–Quebec, specifically. In modern foie gras factory farms, these waterfowl are intensively raised in large, enclosed barns.  One by one, the farm worker grabs each immobilized bird and forces a metal pipe down their throats. An enormous amount of a corn-and-oil mixture is pumped by a machine directly into their gullets in just a few seconds – up to one-third of the birds’ own body weight each day. They are fed in this way for 2 to 4 weeks before being slaughtered.(link)

To get an idea of the horror inflicted upon birds raised for foie gras, watch this slideshow of photos taken during a series of undercover investigations in Canada’s three foie gras farms, Palmex, Elevages Perigord, and Aux Champs d’Elisee.  (Warning: the photos are graphic.  Photo credit goes toFarm Sanctuary.)

The industry has no qualms with stating blatant and obvious lies to defend this practice, insisting that force-feeding is merely an extension of the ducks’ “natural migratory behaviour”.  They conveniently ignore the fact that Moulards, the birds used in foie gras production, are non-migratory.  Even if they were, it’s important to note that birds preparing for migration will only gorge themselves to the point of doubling the size of their livers; the livers of foie gras ducks are ten times bigger than normal.


Foie gras ducks are dabbling ducks, like Mallards, and do not eat fish. (Photo: Richard Bartz)

Another favourite defense of foie gras fans is that ducks eat “wriggling, spiny fish” all the time and therefore, forcing a metal pipe down a duck’s throat and into their stomach is harmless.  Putting aside the fact that punctured esophagi are frequently found in foie gras ducks (both live and dead), the claim isn’t even remotely true from a scientific standpoint.  Some species of diving ducks do eat fish–yes, even wriggling, spiny ones.  Moulards, however, are in a completely different subfamily known as “dabbling ducks”.  (Technically, they’re a hybrid of two species of dabbling ducks–Muscovies and our common Mallard.) Dabbling ducks subsist on plant matter that they graze from the surface of the water, as well as small vertebrates and insects.  And geese, who are also used for foie gras, are mostly vegetarian; at any rate, they do not eat fish either. (Note: There are freak incidents of dabbling ducks swallowing small fish, but according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this almost never happens; on the rare occasion that it is observed, it is during the ducks’ breeding season when physiological need for protein is highest.)

You can read more industry claims and detailed responses on our part here.

1 Comment

Walk for Farm Animals: Monet and Matisse, the ducks | Liberation BC blog

September 17, 2013 at 9:03 am

[…] are two ducks rescued from the foie gras industry.  (I wrote about the industry’s lies a couple of weeks ago.) Monet and Matisse are young with a tiny bit of baby fuzz on their necks that has not yet been […]

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