FOIE GRAS PRODUCTION
Foie gras is made from force feeding ducks and geese two to three times a day to artificially enlarge their livers. Production of foie gras is universally considered one of the most abominable practices in farming due to the large amount of suffering it causes.
ON THE FARM
Foie gras comes from domesticated geese or ducks (ducks are more commonly used). Eighty percent of birds raised for foie gras are confined to individual cages the size of shoe boxes, the rest are confined in groups in small pens. The only interaction the birds have is with a human who 2-3 times a day grabs the neck of each bird and inserts an 8-12 inch long metal pipe through their throat and esophagus. The birds are force fed 1/4-1/3 of their own body weight, the human equivalent of being force fed 44 pounds of pasta a day. The liver of the birds is increased 6-10 times its normal size before they are slaughtered.
The practice of force feeding causes suffering to geese and ducks. Evidence gathered from scientific research, veterinary analysis, observations at foie gras farms and necropsies document the physical, social and behavioral impacts of force feeding on birds.
The force feeding often results in physical injuries such as a lacerated trachea and esophagus. Force feeding causes liver steatosis, meaning the liver is no longer able to work as a circulatory filter. This malfunctioning of the liver often results in damage to the central nervous system. The enlargement of the liver also impairs breathing as the liver squeezes the air sacs of the lungs. This is evidenced by the constant panting of ducks raised for foie gras. The enlarged liver also causes an extreme weight gain, making it extremely difficult for the ducks to walk. All this adds up to a mortality rate that is 20 times higher on foie gras farms than on conventional duck farms.
Birds kept for foie gras production are confined in cages and live in constant darkness. They are unable to express any of their natural behaviors and instincts. Both ducks and geese are extremely social animals; their individual confinement does not provide any of the natural stimulation they receive from social interaction.
Their confinement also makes them unable to fly. Birds are also unable to swim, as they are only given enough water to, at best, stick their bill in. Birds are also debilled, a process where their upper bills are cut off. The debilling process is extremely painful for birds as bill tissue is rich in nerve endings. Birds raised for foie gras are unable perform any of their natural behaviors.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
A Zogby poll found that 77% of the United States population supports a ban on foie gras. Fifteen countries prohibit the force feeding of ducks, and California and Chicago recently banned the production and sale of foie gras. The Chicago ban has held up against court challenges.
Do you know of a restaurant that serves foie gras in your town? Educate them on the cruelty involved in foie gras production and ask them to stop offering foie gras on their menu.