The Plight of Domestic Fowl

Exploitative Use in Agriculture, Commerce, and Education

Domestic fowl make up over 95% of the animals used in agriculture. This means that each year, billions of chickens, ducks, turkeys, geese and other birds are confined in horrific conditions for the duration of their short, miserable lives, before being brutally killed.  Domestic fowl are exploited for the bodies in more diverse and extreme ways than any other animal—they are used for their meat, eggs, and down feathers.  Chicks and ducklings are also routinely purchased and gifted around Easter and used in hatching projects. With no awareness of the care they need, most of these birds will die within days, or be abandoned when their novelty wears off or they grow to be too large and messy. Even their use for meat surpasses the torture inflicted upon other animals raised for food—ducks are used to make foie gras by being force-fed enormous quantities of grain via a metal tube shoved down their throats multiple times a day until they develop fatty liver disease, at which time they are killed and their diseased livers processed into the “luxury” item. Human beings have managed to find every possible way to exploit these gentle birds.

Duck Dumping

Just like our companion and farm animals, ducks and geese were domesticated by humans thousands of years ago. These years of breeding resulted in animals vastly different from their wild counterparts, both physiologically and psychologically—just as domestic dogs are different from wolves. Despite being an act of animal cruelty, as well as illegal, the abandonment of these domestic ducks and geese is a constant occurrence in parks and on lakes when they are no longer wanted. Frequently the dumpers do not realize that their actions constitute a death sentence.

Domestic ducks and geese depend entirely upon the care of humans to survive, no different than our “pet” dogs. Bred for either egg or meat production, they have large bodies and small wings, rendering them flightless and unable to escape predators or to find open water when the ponds freeze in winter. They also lack the survival instincts of wild birds. When abandoned on ponds, they do not know how to forage for naturally occurring food and often starve to death. They routinely succumb to attacks from predators (including raccoons, foxes, and snapping turtles) and cruelty by humans. Most domestic ducks and geese die within 24 to 48 hours of being dumped. If they survive until winter, they face diminishing natural food sources and ponds freezing over—either fully or partially—and they cannot migrate to find water, as the wild birds do. These abandoned animals often become frozen in place on the ice. Some will freeze to death (certain breeds are especially prone to frostbite), while others find themselves helpless against attacks. The rest die of dehydration or starvation.

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