Taking a Gander at foie gras

By now you’ve guessed that I really love ducks & geese. I grew up with two companion ducks who lived to be 13 ½ & 16 years old.  This week I took in a huge Chinese goose with an infected foot. He is part of a flock of 9 (was 11) at a pond in South River. They are domestic geese & were dumped there.
Diane, a very nice woman & one of my listeners from my now defunct radio show luckily lives across from the pond & feeds the flock daily. She knows to give them duck pellets & in this cold weather, corn as well. People love to feed aquatic birds stale bread which has few nutrients. Bread fills them up but they nevertheless starve when fed bread.

Some well-intentioned & clueless person had wrapped his swollen foot up in a tight bandage. This may have caused some tissue damage so we’ll see if he regains use of his flaccid foot. Please note: warm, red, swollen skin usually means infection & requires antibiotics.

At first he was scared & quite vocal & refused to eat. After a day he gobbled up some pellets & but when I offered him watermelon (a duck & goose favorite) laced with his medicine, he refused to eat it. After one day of missed meds I knew I had to get meds into him or else he’ll lose his foot for sure. I have nice neighbors so I called Sue from next door to come over to help me inject him with his Baytril. Because antibiotics can cause tissue necrosis, this could be done just once or twice. Orally consuming his medicine was the best way. We covered his head so he could not see, I felt for his breastbone & the fleshy muscle to its side. He got his medicine.

The next day, worried about getting more meds into him, I consulted with my vet & several bird people. Tube feeding was another although stressful option. When I saw the catheter I got panicky. I’ve suctioned people (I’m a nurse) but I have never put a tube down the throat of a conscious goose.

I thought of the millions of ducks & geese who constantly endure tubes down their throats when they are forced for foie gras. "Foie gras" means "fatty liver”. Farm workers ram tubes down the ducks' & geese's throats several times daily and pump in about 4 pounds of grain and fat into the animals' stomachs. This causes their livers to bloat 10 times their normal size. Many birds can’t stand up because of their engorged livers and they tear out their own feathers and cannibalize each other out of stress. These ducks & geese often choke to death or their organs will rupture. Many develop foot infections, kidney necrosis, spleen damage, bruised and broken bills, and tumor-like lumps in their throats. Often so painfully bloated, they can’t move & are gnawed on by rats that share their abode. For two weeks the birds are stuffed with food after which they are slaughtered.

This “delicacy” dates back to ancient Egyptian times. High in cholesterol & saturated fat, foie gras is super unhealthy & a sure way to clog your arteries. A few countries like Turkey, Israel & the European Union have banned foie gras & California is slated to do so in 2012.

When I got home with more antibiotics & a bag full of various juices & more water melon, I heard him calling from the garage. He was hungry & wanted to be feed. I hesitantly offered him more watermelon with his medicine. He looked at it & then (thankfully) ate it up. I got his medicine in him. Then he limped over to his pool, flopped in & wagged his tail. I was relieved. Life for this one goose is good…

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