Maple Leaf Farms
Maple Leaf Farms is the largest producer of ducklings in North America.
They sell White Pekin duckling to restaurants, caterers and grocery
stores. Maple Leaf processes 14 million ducks per year and has facilities
in California, Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio (1).
According to Maple Leaf, they control every aspect of production.
It justifies keeping ducks in sheds, preventing them from being
outside in a natural habitat, by saying it is better for the ducks!
In fact, they unequivocally state that the ducks are not 'free-range'(2).
Viva! has investigated a number of their farms in different states
around the U.S. In all of the locations visited, dim lights were
on the birds constantly - in the middle of the night and during
the day. None had access to water for swimming or even to immerse
One farm, (263 San Fidel Ave., La Puente, CA) had two rows of sheds
that went on for a half of a mile. There were ducks inside these
sheds as far as the eye could see. There were nesting boxes and
a few eggs scattered around. It had just rained so the small outside
area which some ducks could go into was muddy and smelled overpoweringly
of manure. The farm was right off the highway and yet the noises
were drowned out by the incessant quacking. The ducks were filthy
and many had crusty eyes.
The next farm (1660 W. Agua Mansa Rd., Colton, CA) had younger ducks;
these were still yellow. The birds were fed through feeders; and
given water via a few bell drinkers but mostly small nipple drinkers.
The baby ducks would crowd along the nipple drinkers trying to get
water and some were trying to get it to splash on their bills. One
little yellow duck sat with a mix of mud and manure covering his
At their headquarters (9166 N. 200 E, Milford, IN) one set of their
breeder ducks were kept in sheds that were falling apart with holes
in the ceiling and walls. The air was full of feathers and other
particles. There was a dead duck on the floor who was being walked
on by her fellow ducks. They only had nipple drinkers for water.
Around the rest of the complex there were massive sheds, empty.
Some had mesh flooring out.
At another location (7286 Sandusky County Road 33, Wayne, OH) there
was a dead duck near the entrance. There was also a duck who had
fallen in the mesh flooring next to the water who had gotten his
wings stuck. The duck was on his back squawking, struggling to get
up. A Viva! investigator had to use considerable force to remove
his wings from the gaps in the floor. There were also a number of
ducks in the sheds who struggled to stand, but were unable to.
Started in 1984 by the Grimaud family from France, they specialize
in the Muscovy duck. In 1987 the company made under a million dollars
in annual revenues. They make over 6 million dollars a year now.
The company controls a 120-acre hatchery and breeding facility,
as well as 5 duck and 2 rabbit ranches. They have recently taken
over the sales and distribution of Sonoma Foie Gras (3).
As stated earlier, Grimaud Farms of California imports their breeding
stock from France (4). Here the breeding ducks are individually
caged, unable to exercise or fulfil the most basic instincts and
mated by artificial insemination three times every two weeks (5).
An ad put out by Grimaud clearly shows de-billed ducks (6).
Metzer Farms (located in Gonzales, CA) has been around since 1978
and operates breeding and shipping services (7). They sell 10,000
to 20,000 edible eggs a week and have 'developed' the Golden 300
Hybrid. This hybrid was created by crossing the attributes of different
duck breeds. The Golden Hybrid can lay 230 eggs in 40 weeks in comparison
to the typical egg-laying duck, the Khaki Campbell, who will lay
195 (8) (see part two for amount of eggs laid in 52 weeks).
All of Metzer's shipments go through the U.S. Postal Service. No
food or water is provided in the box. According to Metzer, they
absorb their yolk immediately before hatching and this provides
them the moisture and energy they need for up to 60 hours (9).
However, a study on chicks left without water for up to 48 hours
reported high mortality. Scientists from Bristol University's Dept.
of Meat and Animal Science concluded: "This work has demonstrated
that large losses in weight may occur while chicks are in transit
for periods of time which are likely to be common in commercial
practice." Their research indicated that some chicks suffer serious
weight loss and are prone to dying immediately after placement in
One reason for a high percentage of 'day-olds' dying on arrival
was explained in an article published in World Poultry which stressed:
"The condition of the chicks on arrival can be ascertained before
placing as severely dehydrated chicks will often seek water and
rush to the drinkers, leading to drowning" (11).
There is no reason to believe that conditions are any better for
ducklings than they are for chicks and there has to be great concern
that serious problems exist with their transport. The reason for
there being so little research into duck welfare is that the market
is small compared to massive broiler chicken sales.
For over five generations, Culver Duck (12215 C R 10, Middlebury,
IN) has been breeding, hatching, raising and slaughtering Pekin
ducks (12). Culver Duck has many sheds housing hundreds of ducks
visible from a city street. They drank from nipple drinkers, had
no other access to water and some of the ducks were unable to stand.
Some of the major supermarkets stocking
Giant Food Stores
Stop & Shop
References (part six)
1. www.mapleleaffarms.com, About Maple Leaf Farms
2. www.mapleleaffarms.com, Frequently Asked Questions.
3. www.grimaud.com, The Story.
5. International Hatchery Practice, Vol. 8, No. 7, 1994.
6. World Poultry Elsevier vol 15 No 12 1999
7. www.metzerfarms.com Duck and Goose Hatchery, About Metzer Farms.
8. www.metzerfarms.com. Duck and Goose Hatchery, Metzer Farms Golden
9. www.metzerfarms.com. Duck and Goose Hatchery, Shipping Our Ducks
10. Responses of Newly Hatched Chicks to Inanition. Warris. P.D.
et al. Veterinary Record, 18 January 1992.
11. Losses due to Dehydrated Broiler Chicks, Qureshi, Dr. A A. World
Poultry, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1991.
12. www.culverduck.com. About Culver Duck.