This fall, French breeders will mainly force-feed ducks, for lack of ducks. An unprecedented technique. What are the consequences for farmers? And what is the difference in the consumers’ plate? Two specialists explain to us.
For lack of anything better, the breeders of the Lot, like everywhere in France, are turning to cans this season. Avian flu has put a damper on the production of ducklings. So the farmers don’t really have a choice: this year, they will have to force-feed ducks rather than ducks. Almost unheard of. In the Lot, since August 15, there are almost no more male ducks: only 10%. “There are no more male ducks so we try to compensate by force-feeding the female, some producers produced them ten years ago, after a terrible episode of avian flu, but that’s all. a truly exceptional decision which aims above all to turn the tools of the producers and to have liver despite everything for the holidays”, summarizes Gérard Lavinal, the president of the cooperative of Capel. And as much to say that it will be necessary to adapt. Because according to the first force-feedings carried out by the producers of the cooperative, the technique is more “sharp”.
” Lhe ducks react differently in force-feeding and also in rearing. In breeding, they require more presence and attention, especially since they see less well than males. In force-feeding, you have to be extremely careful because a duck does not warn, if you over-feed her, in the evening she is dead, it can go very quickly, “explains the president of the cooperative. Poultry adviser at the Lot Chamber of Agriculture , Macarena Sirejol confirms: “The ducks are more fragile, they require more time for breeding, it’s more demanding.” The force-feeding period remains identical to that of the males: between ten and fourteen days.
Livers of 600 grams max against 700 for males
Another problem: according to Gérard Lavinal, the duck does not produce as much meat as the duck. “It is a little smaller so the distribution of lean fat is not the same. Moreover, we note that we obtain, in 40 to 60% of cases, veined liver, that is to say with superficial veins that cannot be classified and marketed as ‘extra'”, adds the specialist. To put it another way, the liver is of poorer quality and risks ending up in “all-comers”, that is to say melting, mixed with pâté or terrine. According to the cooperative, the batches are more random in terms of quality. And therefore, the yields are less good. “There will be a significant shortfall for producers even if we do not yet have enough perspective to quantify it”, adds Gérard Lavinal. The carcass of ducks, smaller, also necessarily sells for less. Finally, no impact according to the head of the cooperative in terms of taste.
Macarena Sirejol sees the glass half full: “Certainly the livers produced are less important than those of the males but all the same, we have already been able to reach up to 550 grams or 600 grams of liver, against 700 grams maximum for a duck. Breeders are pleasantly surprised, even reassured. The shortage is so great this year that it’s better than nothing”. The first slaughters are in progress. The preserves can start in a week. Surely the promise of a new adventure for breeders.