Geese & Duck
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Live Feather Plucking
Geese are plucked in many countries around the world. The aim is to gain a maximum amount of feathers and down from the live animal.
Brigades of pieceworkers pluck the animals (plucking is also called harvesting or gathering) to produce the most expensive and high quality down. Down from the plucked old parent animals, in particular, is very popular and solely used for premium products. During the plucking the animals are often injured and the wound is stitched without using anaesthetics.
Down from live animals is mainly produced in China and Hungary. Live geese plucking does also take place in Poland, Germany, Russia and the Ukraine. In some countries, such as China, ducks are also used. Live plucking is banned in the EU, yet still continues, dressed up as 'moult plucking' or gathering.
‘Foie gras’ means ‘fatty liver’ and is produced by force-feeding ducks and geese twice or three times a day with large amounts of feed for a period of two to three weeks before they are slaughtered. Force-feeding increases the size of the liver by six to ten times and the fat content of the liver exceeds 50%!
Foie gras production is inherently cruel and key to this is the force-feeding procedure, which is a totally unnatural way of eating for the birds.
To be force-fed, each bird sees a feeding tube inserted into its’ oesophagus and then boiled maize, mixed with fat is delivered by an auger (a screw which is operated by hand or an electric motor) or a pneumatic or hydraulic system. Mechanised systems may deliver the feed in just 2-3 seconds, allowing one person to force-feed up to 400 caged ducks in an hour!
Ducks are typically force-fed twice a day for 12 to 15 days and geese 3 times a day for 15 to 21 days. The amount of feed in each meal is considerably greater than what would be their normal intake and is increased over the force-feeding period. If force-feeding were stopped, the birds would greatly reduce their feed intake for several days.
Frightened by the procedure, birds’ will often shy away from the person who force-feeds them, indicating that the procedure is aversive. After force-feeding, the birds are usually left panting. Whilst less able to move freely, they still move away or try to move away from the person who force-fed them.