Duck farming is often hidden quite literally behind closed doors. We often imagine ducks as being free birds, sitting on riverbanks and swimming in the water. However, most ducks in the UK never see a river at all! 14 million ducks live (and die) in UK farms each year, while less than a million live by the river.
Egg-laying ducks in Lincolnshire
Viva! recently investigated one duck egg farm in Lincolnshire. The eggs were sold at Co-ops around Lincolnshire and the supplier could also be found at Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose and Ocado.
Yet, what we found there was awful! Many birds had broken wings or legs, and workers would swing ducks round by their necks to dislocate them and kill the duck.
Many ducks were diseased or injured, lying around the barn or discarded outside. Mice were running around in the ducks’ food, too – an easy way for infections to spread!
Ducklings killed for meat
Ducklings are killed for meat just seven weeks after birth – they have been bred to grow as fast as possible so that the farmers can sell and kill the maximum number of ducks in a year.
Most of these ducks are killed by gassing them in containers. Others are killed by a neck dislocating device, but many of these are left alive, terrified and in pain for long periods of time before eventually dying of the injury.
Foie gras (pronounced ‘fwah-grah’) is supposedly a delicacy that is often served in fancy restaurants. This is made from the liver of ducks and geese. In order to make the livers fatty for foie gras, the birds are typically force-fed fat-boiled corn by pushing nozzles down their throats.
These birds live in tiny cages where they cannot move around, and the force-feeding process leads to painful liver swelling and diseases.
Because of the cruelty involved in foie gras production, the UK banned it in the year 2000; however, foie gras is stilled imported, mostly from France.