We bought our first ducks around two years ago. They were anonymous white ducklings from the Agri Shop, presumably 'designed' to be meat ducks. They grew fast, but we were never quite sure which were male and which were female. No eggs were ever laid. No mating ever seemed to take place. So we waited. We asked a friend about them she said that she thought they 'did something' to them, and said that she'd heard that someone had once cut one open and it 'wasn't right inside'. I had no idea how much faith to place in that statement, but I took note that all may not be well.
I talked about it at some length with my other half, and we wondered if maybe they'd been given some sort of hormone treatment to make them grow faster or something, and if so maybe a side effect was that they didn't mature sexually, or were a bit transgender or something.
We decided to give up on these ducks as a a lost cause, and this morning I killed one of them for the table. Then I plucked it, and gutted it.
For those of you with strong stomachs, this is what I found - PLEASE DON'T CLICK IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH!!
The intestines are at the front of the photo, slightly smaller than I would have expected, and the gizzard is slightly further back, in the centre,encased in white tissue. But what the hell is the rest of it? There seem to be two kidneys embedded somewhere in that horrific mass, and there was a bit of liver somewhere underneath out of sight. I'm not sure if I even saw a heart. The whole cavity was packed tight with this lot - it's a wonder the poor thing could waddle around... ops:
This was the first time I'd gutted a duck - but I'm pretty certain that this is far from normal! Could the ducklings have been treated with hormones before we bought them? Is this some kind of cancer induced by a hormone treatment? Or is it just bad luck? I have a couple more ducks to cull for the table. But at this rate I'm not sure how many of them are going to get that far...
Yeah, that's not right. I don't know what it is, but having butchered about 50 or 60 birds this year, chickens, ducks, turkeys, and quail, I can honestly say I've not seen anything like that. The ducks I butchered were, coincidentally, 2 years old also, some of my excess Rouens, and they had nothing like that inside.
I can only speculate -- some kind of tumors, may fibroids similar to uterine fibroid tumors in women? Of just some kind of abdominal fat deposits -- we know ducks are a very fatty meat, and domestic ducks given a good diet do eat a lot and get fatty.
Honestly, I've never heard of injecting ducks with hormones, no any poultry, and I'm sure it wouldn't be legal in the US. But who knows -- that is weird , maybe you could e-mail the photo to your state's Dept. of Agriculture's veterinary pathology service and ask them what it could be?
The lumps didn't seem like fat to me, though I have to admit I didn't cut any open. There didn't appear to be any fat anywhere, and there wasn't much meat on the carcass either, though I guess with a tumour that size to support and having the guts squashed up there wasn't much spare nutrition for any fat. Fibroids had crossed my mind too, but then they look like they've pretty well encased the kidneys, with separate tumours for each kidney, which suggests that they originated on the kidneys. Or maybe the heart, which I never found. But I don't really have a clue I must admit.
I'm in Portugal, not the US, and I'm pretty sure that it's not legal to give hormones to poultry here, but I wouldn't be completely surprised to find out that it still happens 'on the quiet'. I'm going to pluck up the courage to butcher another one and see if it's the same. I'll be better prepared next time and take more photos, maybe even freeze the innards and get someone who could interpret it better to have a look. It just seems really strange that this should show up on the first of the ducks that we'd already suspected had been 'interfered with' in some way.