Update: After a long silence and no response to repeated inquiries, Harris Teeter has assured PETA that Culver Duck Farms no longer supplies the company with duck meat. While Harris Teeter’s current supplier, Joe Jurgielewicz & Son, says that Harris Teeter is not obtaining ducks from the farms where PETA documented the egregious suffering, it’s common for ducks raised for meat to spend their lives in cramped, filthy, dark sheds before their throats are slit. We continue to urge Harris Teeter to take swift action by ending the sale of all meat from gentle ducks.
A PETA video exposé of Culver Duck Farms, Inc.—the second-largest duck slaughterer in the U.S.—reveals that ducks were kicked, thrown, slammed against walls, and kept in isolation for weeks. According to its website, Culver supplies duck meat to Harris Teeter, The Fresh Market, and other grocery chains around the country and claims, “If you go to a China Town in the U.S.A. and see a duck in the window it’s a good chance you’re looking at a Culver Duck.” Duck meat sold at Whole Foods comes from Culver, where “breeder” ducks were crammed by the thousands into massive, dark sheds.
Culver slaughters 25,000 ducks every day. Here’s a look at what anyone buying duck meat or down-filled products could be supporting.
Ducklings Smothered to Death, Beaks Burned Off
Hours after hatching, workers burned off the tips of ducklings’ beaks—a common procedure in factory farming—in an effort to prevent pecking and feather-pulling. Ducklings were dumped onto grated floors, and the eyewitness saw that on one occasion, about 14 of them had smothered to death when they piled up for warmth inside a cold barn.
Some ducklings, like this one, died just hours after hatching.
Workers killed ducklings deemed too small and therefore not useful to the company. One worker slowly pulled this baby duck’s head off, and a supervisor described this as “normal.”
Ducks Crammed by the Thousands Into Sheds
Despite emphatically exclaiming on its website that birds are “NOT FACTORY FARMED!!!” Culver crams up to 4,000 ducks into massive, dark sheds, giving each bird only about 2 to 3 square feet of floor space. A supervisor told the eyewitness that Culver was experimenting to see if ducks could be raised on just 1 square foot of space per bird. Others were kept isolated in 1.5-square-foot wire-floored cages for weeks before being slaughtered.
Ducks often suffered from what workers called ammonia burns, which left them with raw-looking skin and missing feathers. A supervisor admitted to the eyewitness that the stagnant, ammonia-filled air would blind some ducks whose eyes were sealed shut with mucus, yet Culver assures customers that ventilation and fresh air are “critical” to its farming operations.
Ducks were denied any opportunity to swim or bathe, which are vital to their welfare. The grated flooring under their only water source, which the observer never saw cleaned, was caked with feces.
“Breeder” ducks were found dead with apparently prolapsed oviducts and/or intestines. Ducks, like this one, had swollen legs and feet, which workers said was caused by infections.
Slammed Against Walls, Necks Wrung
Workers attempted to kill unwanted ducks by slamming their heads against hard surfaces, including a brick wall and wooden beams. Ducks cried out between the blows, which left them bleeding heavily and, in at least one case, missing an eye. Some were still kicking and flapping up to an hour afterward.
Workers and a supervisor also grabbed more than 100 ducks by the head or neck and spun them around in an attempt to kill them. The birds kicked and flapped for at least two minutes afterward, and one duck was left nearly decapitated. A Culver director said that “twirling” ducks by their necks in this manner was his preferred way of killing them. After viewing this footage, University of Cambridge Department of Veterinary Medicine emeritus professor Donald Broom called it an “ineffective method” that “would cause pain and distress [and] is very unlikely to lead to unconsciousness.”
This duck survived for at least two minutes after a worker wrung her neck.
These ducks survived for at least 10 minutes after being slammed against a wall.
Kicked, Thrown, and Sent to Slaughter
Thousands of ducks, many of whom were injured or lame, were dumped, kicked, or thrown onto trailers and hauled hundreds of miles away to be hung upside down and slaughtered. Ducks were also sent to slaughter in frigid temperatures. On one day, there was a winter storm warning with strong winds, but the truck left anyway, and a worker said the trip would take about 10 hours. Many birds had bloody wounds, apparently from rough handling.
Some ducks like this one, named Benjamin by the eyewitness, were kept in isolation for weeks before being slaughtered. A worker said they were used in feed experiments.
Mucus coated the eyes of this duck, named Jamie by the eyewitness, who wandered in circles inside a trailer destined for the slaughterhouse.
These ducks were on their way to slaughter. A worker grabbed them by the neck and threw them into the trailer.
You Can Help Stop This Cruelty!
In addition to supplying duck meat to major grocery chains and Chinatown restaurants around the country, Culver boasts that its duck feathers “are in high demand for down,” and the eyewitness was told by a supervisor that 30,000 pounds of feathers are sent to China weekly.
Before considering buying duck meat or down-filled products, please think about these ducks and remember their suffering. You can help stop it by taking the vegan pledge below.