A new investigation into a French foie gras farm reveals female ducklings left to slowly suffocate and male ducklings mutilated by machines and force-fed to the point that they can barely breathe. Animal advocacy group L214 took videos and photos inside Domaine de la Peyrouse in the Dordogne, France—a farm that both produces foie gras and serves as a training facility for the local agricultural school. What they found was utterly heartbreaking.
Hundreds of thousands of ducklings hatch at Domaine de la Peyrouse every year. After hatching, the ducklings are sorted by sex, as only male ducks are force-fed in France. The female ducklings are crammed together by the thousands into giant containers where they slowly die of either hunger or suffocation.
Ducks who are deemed “unfit” or fail to hatch in time are also thrown away, meaning many tiny ducklings hatch and die in the trash.
After being sorted, the male ducklings are stuck on a carousel where the tips of their little beaks are painfully burned off.
When the male ducks are several weeks old, they are immobilized in narrow metal cages and force-fed with air pumps. The extreme overfeeding causes the young ducks to gasp for breath and gives them terrible diarrhea. According to L214, the process is so physically traumatizing that 10 times more ducks die during the force-feeding period than under normal conditions.
The ducks’ livers quickly become diseased and swell up to 10 times their normal size, resulting in terrible physical and emotional pain. After less than two weeks of force-feeding, the ducks are loaded into cages and taken to the slaughterhouse.
At the slaughterhouse, ducks are hung up by their feet while fully conscious and immersed in an electrified stun bath. The blood is then drained from their bodies. Some ducks regain consciousness during this process, flapping their wings in terror and agony before dying.
Despite the inhumane treatment of ducks at the farm, the foie gras won a gold medal at the 2019 General Agricultural Competition.
In the United States, Mercy For Animals has been at the forefront of the fight against foie gras. California banned foie gras in 2004, and the law took effect in 2012. After a foie gras producer tried to get the ban overturned by suing the state, Mercy For Animals joined a coalition of animal protection organizations in filing an amicus brief in support of the ban. In January 2019, the United States Supreme Court refused to hear the case challenging the ban. In October of this year, Mercy For Animals and coalition partners helped push the New York City Council to vote overwhelmingly in favor of banning foie gras as well.
Foie gras production is so cruel that it is illegal not only in California and New York City but in more than a dozen countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, and Israel. In 2017, Brussels banned foie gras production.