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A PETA Undercover Investigation

1-Day-Old Ducklings Ground Up Alive at America’s Largest Duck Company

A disturbing PETA undercover investigation into Maple Leaf Farms, which claims to be North America’s leading duck producer and sell “humanely raised” duck meat, reveals that ducklings were tossed around and ground up alive the very day they hatched.

Here’s a look at what you support if you buy roast duck, duck sausage, duck-fat French fries, or down-filled products.

Maple Leaf slaughters approximately 15 million ducks annually, about 60% of all the ducks killed in the U.S. duck industry, and supplies grocers and food distributors around the country and in more than 40 other nations.

The suffering and stress inherent in the duck industry starts on the first day of the birds’ miserable life.

PETA’s investigator worked at Maple Leaf’s hatchery in Kansasville, Wisconsin. As a manager said, the company is “the largest producer of duckling in the country. You know, if you go to a restaurant and order duck, [the bird] may have started here.”

Workers roughly and rapidly scooped handfuls of ducklings out of filthy, crowded trays filled with egg shells.

Those deemed “good birds”—meaning the company could raise and kill them for their flesh, fat, and feathers—were dropped or flung onto conveyor belts and into bins. They were then hauled off to a massive shed on a factory farm. If they survived a few months there, they’d be put back on a truck bound for a slaughterhouse, where their throats would be slit.

Ducklings who didn’t make the grade were tossed aside into bins because they were injured or sick and judged unlikely to bring in a profit.

They sat there, struggling and no doubt terrified, until workers carried them off to another room and dumped them—fully conscious—into a macerator, which chopped and ground them up.

Their remains were dropped into a dumpster below, along with the trash.

Ducks are outgoing, social beings who—like all animals—deserve compassion. Did you know that ducks have been observed enthusiastically meeting children at the bus stop after school? Or that, in nature, companion ducks sleep together at night? The talkative birds even reportedly have regional accents, just like humans. And duck moms are caring and loving: They line their nests with some of their own feathers to make it soft and cozy, and when the time comes, they lead their ducklings to a safe place to swim and eat, sometimes more than a half-mile away from the nest.

The ‘Humane Duck Meat’ Myth

Maple Leaf claims that ducks are “humanely raised” and shows idyllic illustrations of the process by which it turns gentle birds into cuts of flesh, buckets of fat, and piles of feathers to be stuffed into pillows and comforters at its subsidiary, Down, Inc.

PETA has exposed suffering in this industry again and again. Our investigation into Culver Duck Farms—the “humane certified” second-largest U.S. duck producer—revealed workers repeatedly slamming ducks against the wall and other hard surfaces, wringing their necks by spinning them around by the head, and, in one case, even tearing a duckling’s head off.

In 2022, a whistleblower reported that female ducks at Culver were badly injured after being “gang raped” and others were suffocated and buried alive.

This clearly falls well short of a reasonable consumer’s expectations for “humane” treatment, proving once again that there is no such thing as “humane meat.” Any company can call itself “humane” with no evidence or oversight, but PETA is here to blow the lid off these deceptive claims.

If you think you have what it takes to carry out undercover investigations and expose suffering like this, we want to hear from you. Click here to share your gratitude with the investigator who exposed this cruelty.

Ducks Need You to Help Stop This!

Don’t be misled by marketing claims that animals are “humanely raised.” Only consumers can stop this suffering—by not paying for it. Avoid all animal-derived foods, including misleadingly named “humane,” “organic,” and “free-range” meat, eggs, and milk. As long as profit is involved, animal welfare always takes a back seat.

The easiest way to help ducks at Maple Leaf and the tens of billions of other animals killed for food in the U.S. each year is to go vegan!

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