Where Does Duck Meat Come From?

For most of us, an interaction with a duck is a joyful thing. We may feed them at a local river or lake, and spend hours watching them paddle, dabble, and dive. But for millions of ducks, life is very different.

Are Ducks Farmed?

Ducks are farmed. They are confined in huge intensive warehouses, just like chickens, for their entire, short lives. Thousands of birds may be crammed together in filthy conditions with nothing to occupy their active minds. Many birds become sick or injured but individual veterinary care is not considered cost-effective, and so millions of birds suffer to death inside factory farms. 

Why Are Ducks Farmed?

Ducks are farmed and slaughtered for their meat, eggs, and feathers. They are also farmed and killed to produce foie gras, which is a pâté made from their livers.

How Many Ducks Are Farmed?

More than 20 million ducks are farmed in the US every year, while in the UK the figure is around 14 million birds. 

Ducks are crammed into factory farm sheds. Photo: We Animals Media

What Is Wrong With Duck Farming?

Factory farms are terrible places for all sentient beings, and for ducks, the conditions on farms are uniquely appalling.

Ducks Are Denied Water

Ducks are aquatic birds. They live in and on water, dive in it, dabble for food, and use it to keep their eyes healthy and their feathers pristine. But on factory farms, no water is provided. This not only has a severe detrimental effect on their physical health but on their psychological wellbeing, too. A duck without water is an unhappy, stressed animal.

Ducks Suffer Blindness

Without water to dip their heads into, ducks may suffer eye problems, which can even lead to infection and even blindness.

Ducks Become Lame

Standing all day when they should be on water places a huge burden on their legs, and lameness is a problem for factory-farmed ducks. In the most serious cases, the birds end up on their backs, unable to right themselves, as they paddle desperately trying to get up. It is incredibly frightening for them, and they may be left to die there from starvation or dehydration.

Lameness leads to ducks becoming trapped on their backs, where they may die from starvation. Photo: We Animals Media.

Workers Hurt Ducks

Investigations frequently find that farmed birds, including ducks, are harmed by workers who may throw them, kick them, or pick them up by their necks. We are indebted to investigative groups like Animal Justice Project, Animal Equality, and Viva! for documenting the appalling treatment of ducks on farms and advocating for a world free from this suffering.

Bird Flu Spreads on Duck Farms

Avian influenza (bird flu) was a relatively harmless virus carried by aquatic birds in the wild. However, when it takes hold inside intensive farms, the virus can mutate making it more dangerous, and it inevitably spreads very fast. Now, when the virus is detected, whole flocks are killed, often in the most inhumane manner conceivable: ventilation shutdown. This is where the birds are denied fresh air and are left to die from the rising heat. It is utterly inhumane.

Foie Gras Duck Cruelty

Foie gras is a pâté made from the diseased livers of ducks and geese who have been deliberately overfed, often forcibly. This forced feeding can cause serious injuries, including rupturing stomachs and other internal organs. Injuries to beaks and throats are commonplace, and pneumonia often takes hold as a result of grain entering the birds’ lungs. When not being force fed, the birds are forced to live in cages.

Ducks and geese are forcibly fed to create diseased livers from which foie gras is made. Photo: We Animals Media

Where Is Foie Gras Banned?

Foie gras is such a cruel product that farming birds to make it is banned in many countries, including Argentina, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK. However, the pâté can still be imported into those countries, and only India has a ban on both the production and sale of this cruel product.

How Long Do Ducks Live?

Because the biggest profits are made when animals are slaughtered young, ducks are loaded into crates and dispatched to a slaughterhouse when they are just six to eight weeks old. Naturally, they could live to be 15 years old, or more.

How Are Ducks Slaughtered?

Like chickens, ducks are grabbed by workers and loaded into crates, then packed onto trucks and taken to a slaughterhouse. There, they may be gassed to death, or they may be hung upside down by their legs, dragged through an electrified water bath, and then have their throats cut. They die from bleeding out.

Are There Vegan Versions of Duck Meat?

Yes! There are many companies making vegan duck meat, which give the flavor and texture we may enjoy without causing any suffering to ducks. A hot tip from us is to find your local Chinese supermarket, which will stock many delicious mock duck and other vegan meat products. It is also possible to recreate duck-based dishes using plants, such as this delicious vegan duck pancake recipe.


No animal deserves to be farmed and slaughtered, because their lives are as important to them as ours are to us. For ducks, the cruelty and suffering they experience is unique because ducks need water for their health and wellbeing. In a kinder world, they would not be confined and harmed inside intensive farms but would be living freely on those lakes and rivers, which is, of course, where they truly belong.

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