How is your European foie gras produced? First stage: reception and rearing of ducklings
To learn more about foie gras, we are launching a series on its production in Europe, from the arrival of the ducklings in the farms to the final product. This series will only consider duck foie gras, which makes up the majority of foie gras produced in Europe. However, it is important to note the existence of goose foie gras, which accounts for 7% of the total foie gras production in Europe. Goose foie gras is mainly produced in Hungary, where it has been awarded the “Hungaricum” distinction. In this article, we discuss the first stage of the production process: the reception and rearing of the ducklings.
The foie gras production requires a long and meticulous work before it reaches our plates. This work is carried out by passionate breeders, who pass on this tradition from generation to generation. Raising ducks for foie gras production is a process that lasts between 10 and 15 weeks depending on the species. The animals are raised most of the times in artisanal family farms, with the greatest respect for animal welfare.
After the ducklings are born in hatcheries, they arrive at the farm when they are one day old. They are housed in a building heated to 30 degrees to encourage their development and give them time to feather before going outside. The breeders monitor the animals on a daily basis from the very first days.
During this phase, 75% of their diet is cereal, in the form of crumbs and then pellets. Water is available whenever they want, with devices that adapt to the size of the animals according to their growth (mini drinks, then pipets, etc.).
The animals can move around among the other ducklings as they please. Depending on the weather conditions, and when the ducklings are sufficiently feathered, they have access to an outdoor run.
In the second part of this series, we will discuss the rearing phase of ducks in the open air.