Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Birouca duck farm in Chalosse

Two resting ducks in Chalosse
Chalosse is a part of the inner Landes region. It is the countryside you find once you've passed the great pine forest, a typical agricultural landscape with rolling hills and fields. Many of the farmers have more than one activity, mixing duck farming, cattle farming, corn fields and vineyards. It is a genuine part of Aquitaine, unknown but well worth exploring.

We usually buy our duck liver from M Cabannes at the Léon market. Come and visit our farm Birouca in Mugron, he says every time we see him. We decided to take his word and really go there. Duck liver is quite controversial in Sweden, because the ducks are overfed to develop a fat liver. Can I continue eating duck liver and sleep well at night?

Typical Chalosse landscape
Chalosse typical landscape

View of the Birouca duck farm in Mugron
The Birouca farm

Joel Cabannes owns the duck farm with his brother Benoit. The duck farming is a family tradition that started with their grandfather. When we come to visit, the ducks are five weeks old. The feeding starts when they are eighteen weeks. They are fed whole corn seeds mixed with some sunflower seeds and wheat twice a day for 15-18 days. The duck has a crop in its throat, a kind of pocket for food storage, which enables it to feed  during the long migration flights. They have no intestines, but the food go gradually from the crop to a churning mechanism to facilitate the body nutrition uptake. Joel explains that the ducks must feel well to produce a high quality liver. I can feed 100 ducks per hour in a fast but respectful way, he says. In the industrial breeding of ducks, that represents 85 percent of the market, 600 ducks are fed per hour, with a kind of mash fed to them under pressure. Their necks are attached to facilitate the feeding. That is not the way we work here, he says.

Duck farmer Joel Cabannes

Joel Cabannes gets wary when we talk about the future. The corn price is the same since at least ten years, he says. We grow our own cereals to feed the ducks and use vegetable oil for our machines, but the business is real tough. We manage, but it is tough.


Here the ducks are moving around freely. The picture shows them in a covered place, so they are protected if it rains or if it is too cold outside. Peace and harmony. The ducks look very calm.

Duck feeding in the old days

A picture that shows how the feeding was done in the old days.


  1. En lisant tes articles, on apprend à chaque fois de nombreuses choses....Ce sont toujours pour moi des moments très agréables.

  2. Hello Eva, Great review and definitely a paradise to live. I am interested in contacting and visiting a commericial corn farm in Auquitaine region to familarise myself with farm operations. Can you please help me with some farmers contact? I live in Umea, Sweden. Tack sa mycket. Bright (Brightkumordzi@yahoo.com)

  3. Wowwwwww. I am a great fan of ducks and want to start commercial duck farming business. Your blog is very informative & beautiful with awesome photos.


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