Why You Should Care About Ducks
The life of a duck raised for their flesh
Discover the difference between the life of chickens farmed for their eggs versus chickens living free by using the slider on the image above.
The life of a chicken farmed for eggs
- Hatched in artificial incubators
- Male chicks are ground alive or gassed to death
- Female chicks are mutilated hours after hatching by having the ends of their beaks seared off.
- Hens on battery cage egg farms live in barren cages so small they cannot spread their wings
- The majority of hens never feel the earth under their feet or the sun on their feathers
- Hens on large commercial farms are killed between 1.5 - 2.5 years of age
- They are taken to slaughter or gassed on-site and sent to landfills
The life of a chicken living free
- A mother hen will sit on a clutch of eggs for around 21 days to keep them warm and safe until they hatch
- The mother will communicate with her unhatched chicks through the shell
- Once hatched the chicks will be raised by their mother
- Chickens spend their days exploring and foraging in their natural habitat
- They have the freedom to engage in natural behaviors; roam, scratch the ground, nest, perch and dust bathe
- They form social bonds with other chickens
- When circumstances allow, and chickens are able to reach their natural lifespan, they pass away, often in the presence of their flock mates. At sanctuaries, they may be euthanized to end suffering
- Some chickens can live for 8-12 years
How You Can Help Chickens
Cruelty in Egg Industry
Did you know that chickens are killed for egg production? Yet, many consumers falsely believe that egg farms are slaughter-free.
Chicks are hatched in artificial incubators. Normally hens speak to their chicks prior to hatching. This important bond develops so that a chick immediately recognizes their mother’s voice if they hatch when she is not present. A mother should be waiting to teach the tiny baby birds everything they need to know about the world. Instead, the confused chicks encounter fast-moving machinery, gloved hands, and cruel treatment.
The first process that chicks undergo is “sexing.” Hatchery workers quickly determine the sex of the chicks, which will be the deciding factor in a life of misery or immediate death.
Males Killed at Hatching
Breeds used to produce eggs are bred to lay large quantities of eggs, not to grow large at a fast pace. The majority of male chicks, unable to lay eggs, are killed on their first day of life. The most common method is maceration, where chicks are ground up alive. Other methods include gassing or suffocation.
Painful Beak Trimming: Female Chicks’ Cruel Fate
Debeaking is a standard practice where workers sever the tips of their beaks with a hot iron blade or infrared laser. This painful mutilation prevents birds from injuring one another on overcrowded, unnatural farms.
Winged Imprisonment: Hens Confined to Tiny Cages
Young hens find themselves in a horrendous situation on egg farms.
65% of hens used for egg production are kept in cages so small they cannot spread their wings. No laws stipulate how much space birds must be given to increase welfare, except in a few states. The United Egg Producers mandates that hens have 67-86 square inches of space in cages. To put things in perspective, the average iPad is just over 62 square inches in diameter, giving them barely enough room to stand upright, let alone move around or spread her wings.
Wire-bottom battery cages catch toes and overgrown nails, causing painful injuries. In addition, many of these hens suffer from necrotic tissue, infections from untreated injuries, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis.
34% of hens raised for egg production are confined in cage-free systems. Free-range and cage-free systems are not necessarily better for animal wellbeing. All birds hatched in this industry start their lives as outlined above. Hens raised cage-free are not confined in cages but are often raised in industrial sheds. The amount of space per bird on cage-free farms is slightly larger at 1-1.5 square feet of space. The operations are still overcrowded.
Free-range systems in the United States stipulate some “access to the outdoors.” However, profit-driven loopholes mean outdoor access is often limited to a single, dismal run of any size. For example, a shed with tens of thousands of chickens may have a small outdoor yard for a handful of hens to stand in at a time.
Profit Over Life: Hens Killed at Young Age
At 18-mos-old, egg production declines. Farmers often induce a molt (replacement of all feathers) to extend productive life to a little over two years. “Spent” hens are then caught, crammed into transport cages, and shipped to slaughter. In some states, like California, most commercially reared hens are gassed onsite and their bodies dumped in landfills.
Chickens are not considered “livestock” and are excluded from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act and the 28-Hour Transport Law. This means they do not need to be rendered unconscious prior to having their throats slit.
Whether caged, free-range, cage-free or pasture-raised, all hens are killed when their laying production declines.
Animal Place kindly asks you to eliminate eggs from your diet. Fortunately, new alternatives are released constantly. So ditch eggs. The chickens will thank you!
How can you make a difference in the lives of chickens? Cut eggs out of your diet.
Photo credit via We Animals Media.
You’ve probably heard the phrase “like a duck to water”. The saying exists for good reason! Both wild and domestic ducks can spend countless hours in the water. Submerging their heads under water keeps their nostrils and eyes clear and healthy. Preening themselves in water keeps their feathers in top condition.
It should go without saying that every part of a duck’s body is designed for the water. Their webbed feet propel them forward as they swim. Ducks without access to water can develop dry, cracked legs and feet. Their waterproof feathers allow water to glide right off their bodies without chilling them. “Like water off a duck’s back,” another saying goes.
Even domestic ducks have the natural gift of knowing how to hold their breath. This allows them to submerge their heads in water comfortably for up to a minute. When ducks enter the water, it can be hard to get them back out! Swimming is such a joyful experience for them that it can be heartwarming to simply watch them swim. There’s a reason ducks and geese are categorized as “waterfowl”!
Access to water is a basic necessity for a duck’s happiness and welfare. You might think this is a no-brainer. But the majority of ducks raised on commercial farms never swim a day in their lives. Their physical and emotional health suffers greatly as a result. To the industry, this just doesn’t matter. Take a moment to think about this: an animal being deprived of their most basic core instinct just for the sake of profit.
Most ducks raised for their flesh live in large warehouse-like sheds. These barren, crowded facilities look very similar to the conditions that chickens and turkeys are raised in. A typical duck farm in the United States allows little to no access to the outdoors and keeps animals under artificial light. Not only will most domestic ducks never swim, but many will never see or feel the sun.
Duck feces produce around four times the ammonia as chicken feces. This means that ammonia builds fast in unsanitary and crowded conditions. Pair this with the fact that most ducks do not have access to water, and you have a recipe for disaster. Foot infections are common in ducks standing in their own waste. Respiratory problems can occur in ducks breathing in excessive ammonia levels. Because ducks do not have the ability to dip their heads in water to keep their orifices clean, crust can build up in their eyes and cause infections.
Most ducks raised for their flesh are killed at 7 weeks of age. When cared for properly, domestic ducks can easily live for over ten years.
The life of an average farmed duck is a miserable one. But the lives of those used for foie gras are even worse. “Foie gras” is French for “fatty liver”. It’s not just ducks who suffer for this “luxury” food. Geese are exploited for their liver as well. The existence of a bird raised for foie gras is painful and frightening.
The extreme fattening of a goose or duck’s liver is done through forced feeding. Forced feeding occurs during the final “phase” of the birds’ life, just before slaughter. It lasts around two weeks. During this time, birds are kept in small pens or cages to allow for close monitoring.
Birds have a pipe or a tube inserted down their throats and into their stomach. During periods of forced feeding, bird mortality rates jump to 2% to 4%. Accidental death can occur by injury to the esophagus. The goal of forced feeding is for the liver to swell 7 to 10x its healthy size.
Over 75% of the world’s foie gras is produced in France. France is ranked with a lowly “D” in the Animal Protection Index, with minimal laws to protect farmed animals from suffering. Foie gras is also produced here in the United States. In fact, the U.S. humane slaughter act does not even cover birds. This means that chickens, turkeys, ducks and geese are fully conscious when their throats are slit in slaughterhouses.
Whether ducks are raised for their flesh or their fattened liver, they all end up on the same crowded and frightening trucks to slaughter.
Ducks are far more intelligent than most might think. These clever beings are capable of abstract thought typically associated with primates and highly intelligent birds such as parrots and corvids. They are highly social birds who develop life-long bonds with their companions.
Most of all, ducks deserve better. We ask that you keep the suffering of farmed ducks in mind when making food choices. A plant-based diet is easier and more convenient than ever. The easiest way to help animals is to stop eating them.