The production of foie gras has risen a lot of concerns from many persons, including the animal rights advocates in the first place, and from the concerned individuals. Mostly, the horrifying thing was the method used to produce foie gras, which is done in the following way: the workers of the factory farms ram pipes down the throats of male ducks twice every day, pumping up to 2.2 pounds of grain and fat into the animals’ stomachs, or into the stomach of a goose three times a day, up to 4 pounds every day. As a result, the method of force-feeding birds causes the animals’ livers to swell up to 9-10 times larger than their normal size.
Apart from the abusive procedure of putting pipes into the birds’ throats, after their livers are enormously increased, birds experience difficulties in standing because of their livers distending their abdomens. Birds also experience distress due to the painful and uncomfortable feelings, and so they tend to tear out their own feathers and attack other birds.
Moreover, factory farms keep birds for the production of foie gras purposes in small cages or crowded sheds. Naturally, birds sunbathe and groom themselves, however, in the factory farms, it becomes impossible to do these actions, and they become coated “with excrement mixed with the oils that would normally protect their feathers from water.” According to the reporter who visited a foie gras factory farm, the ducks in it looked “listless” and “often lame from foot infection due to standing on metal grilles during the gavage.” However, that is not the only problem that causes damage to the birds’ health, such as the defected esophagus, fungal infections, diarrhea, impaired liver function, heat stress, lesions, fractures of the sternum, occasionally - aspiration pneumonia, etc.
The foie gras industry only uses male ducks, meaning that millions of female ducks are immediately killed since they are not considered useful for the industry. In France alone, approximately 40 million female ducklings are thrown into grinders - similar to the egg industry, where male chicks are killed in the same way.
Read more: Opinion: How Does Going Egg-Free Help Save Chickens?
There have been a few undercover investigations done, which discovered that “a single worker was expected to force-feed 500 birds three times each day. The pace meant that they often treated the birds roughly and left them injured and suffering. So many ducks died from ruptured organs resulting from overfeeding that workers who killed fewer than 50 birds per month were given a bonus. A worker told a PETA investigator that he could feel tumor-like lumps, caused by force-feeding, in some ducks’ throats. One duck had a maggot-ridden neck wound so severe that water spilled out of it when he drank.”
Another investigation made by PETA was at Hudson Valley in 2013 that reported thousands of young ducks crammed into “huge warehouse-like sheds in conditions that are virtually identical to those for “broiler” chickens and turkeys on factory farms.” At Hudson Valley, approximately 15 000 ducks die annually on the farm before they are slaughtered. It was also documented that the foie gras factory farm employees dragged ducks by their necks “along the wire floor and pin them between their legs before ramming the metal force-feeding tubes down their throats.”
Similar conditions and treatment of birds have been observed in other foie gras factory farms in Europe, where ducks were lined up in iron coffin-like cages, and the birds’ heads and necks have been dragged in the small hole to conduct force-feeding in an easier way.