As the horrors behind factory-farmed chicken are revealed, it’s only normal that you’ll question where all your poultry comes from.  

Ducks and geese are usually farmed differently from chicken – but it doesn’t necessarily make it cruelty-free. Here’s what you need to know.

If you eat meat for your primary protein source, then it is not subjectively cruel to eat ducks and geese if they are properly treated when they are alive. You need to avoid sourcing from any place that conducts inhumane practices like live feather plucking or foie gras production.

Ducks and geese are farmed for their meat, eggs, and feathers. And if you are not a vegetarian or vegan, it is even more essential to think about where you source your food. Read on to explore the many aspects to consider when choosing what to put on your plate.

What Do Cruelty-Free Duck and Goose Farms look like?

If you want to support an ethical duck or goose farm, here are the questions you need to ask yourself:

  • How much room does the animal have to live?
  • What is the animal fed?
  • Is the animal subjected to harm or pain while it is alive?
  • Does the farm use sustainable practices?
  • Are the animals allowed to act naturally, as they would in the wild?
  • Is the animal used in research that could bring harm to it?
  • Are products (or ingredients used in them) intended for human use tested on animals?

If you can answer each one of these questions in a way that shows the animals are protected or cared for – you can rest assured that the meat you eat comes from cruelty-free sources.

All of these questions are set out to ensure the five freedoms in animal welfare.

And you want to support organizations that fit this model because they make a point to prove they believe animals should live whole, healthy lives.

Humans domesticated animals to use for sustenance and to improve other aspects of their lives a long time ago. But it can be argued that these animals still have rights and deserve to be treated with respect, and should not be subjected to unnecessary pain during their lives.

Living Conditions on Larger Ducks & Geese Farms Can Be Cruel

Baby ducklings on the grass

If you have never heard of the conditions that ducks and geese are subjected to on factory farms, the news may be shocking to you.

The supply chain on large-scale farms can be full of pain and terror for the ducks and geese – there is cruelty on so many levels.

The animals are often kept in small cages away from their natural habitat. Both ducks and geese have evolved in their physiology to live largely in a water environment. Keeping them out of their habitat has consequences such as:

  • The inability to walk or stand;
  • Developing sores and pains in the legs and feet;
  • The inability to perform natural tasks such as swimming, diving, or cleaning;
  • The inability to regulate body temperature; and
  • Displaying stress-induced behaviors such as excess pecking of themselves or other ducks.

To prevent them from pecking behaviors, ducks may also have their bills mutilated, which is very painful and may lead to death.

Not even the slaughter practices are as swift and sweet as you would hope, either. It is often a long, drawn-out process for the ducks over days. It usually includes uncomfortable transportation where many of the animals die before they even reach the slaughterhouses.

What is Foie Gras, and is it Humane?

Foie gras is duck fatty liver. It is created by a natural body process when ducks over-feed before beginning migration travels. However, few farmers around the world sell this product by letting it occur naturally.

It is a controversial topic because advocates for the product argue that the industry is only taking advantage of it as a naturally occurring process.

Still, advocates against the practice contend that the industry takes it too far. In most markets, the foie gras you can buy was created by overfeeding the ducks with tubes, which sounds violent and makes the ducks sick.

Plucking of Live Ducks and Geese is Common

Cruelty free duck feather stuffing

On many factory farms, the practice of live-plucking is harmful and unnecessary to the birds. In this practice, the feathers are pulled off the birds while they are alive, which is a painful process. This is done because the feathers can regrow so that the farmers can get multiple harvests off a single bird.

There is an alternative to live-plucking where the feathers are harvested after the bird is killed for its meat. In this circumstance, feather harvesting is much more sustainable because every part of the body gets used, so nothing goes to waste.

There are cultures worldwide that have been surviving for centuries because of the animal products they use. They are grateful for those animals' lives and show respect by utilizing every part of the animal after death.    

Ethical use of Down from Ducks and Geese

The Responsible Down Standard is a certification that companies can get to claim that their down products are responsibly sourced.

There are other organizations you can look for when purchasing down products as well. Of course, If you would rather stay away from down altogether, you can always purchase products made from alternative down or other synthetic fibers.

There’s a whole lot more about this topic that you need to know before purchasing a new comforter or stuffed pillow – and we’ve got the perfect article to help you out: Can Down Products Be Cruelty-Free

Ducks and Geese Should Not be Used for Testing

Sadly, animal cruelty can come in many forms. People should be conscious of how their animal products were treated in life before they made it to the supermarket. But you should also be aware that animals can also be hurt by the everyday products we use.

Anything from cleaning supplies to makeup products can be tested on animals before they hit the supermarket shelves.

There are many reasons why animal testing is so cruel and the cause needs strong animal advocates like you to be careful about what you buy. If you feel passionate about this then you can learn more about how you can help here: Why is Animal Testing Cruel?

In the past, organizations were created to regulate this practice and alert buyers to unethical practices when this happens. It is much easier for people to have peace of mind when choosing what makeup, toiletries, and cleaning supplies to buy.

Certification for Cruelty-Free Home Products

Multiple organizations around the world are now committed to keeping animal testing out of your everyday products. We share all the details about these organizations in our article What Cruelty-Free Logos Can You Trust in 2021 – but this breakdown will give you a general idea:

  • Leaping Bunny ­– A group of organizations that regulate cruelty-free products with specific rules with which companies need to comply.
  • Peta- Beauty Without Bunnies – has a searchable database including all companies who sell household products without animal testing
  • Australia- Choose Cruelty-Free – is for cruelty-free regulation of companies who sell to Australia. They take it one step farther. You cannot get this accreditation if the company sells to anywhere in China because they have markets that require animal testing.   

Some Ducks and Geese Can Have a Better Life

Luckily, the duck or goose industry is not all doom and gloom. Some farmers practice keeping ducks and geese humanely. On smaller farms, ducks can have the space they need to be treated compassionately.

Ducks who can live by exhibiting all their behaviors they would in a natural setting are healthier and can live an existence without having unnecessary pain inflicted on them by the farmers. 

These farms can be holistic and healthy, plus they produce meat and animal products that are sustainable and have higher nutritional development. 

Final Thoughts

Much like factory farming chickens – there are many unethical duck and goose farms too. One of the biggest differences is that these animals are exploited for far more than just their meat. Their feathers can be violently ripped out of their skin to make down products, and ducks, in particular, can be force-fed through an invasive tube to make foie gras.

If this is something that you want to stop, then the best way to help is by ensuring that you are only supporting cruelty-free farming when sourcing your duck and goose products. We suggest looking up which local small-scale farmers are in your area – which is easier than ever now with the internet.

Remember to ask yourself the questions that are aligned with the five freedoms in animal welfare to set a solid standard when looking for ethical farmers. The more support these local farmers have, the more power we have to change our society into one that cares about cruelty-free products and respect for the animals on which we depend.

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