This is the practice of force-feeding ducks and geese to provide foie gras (fat liver). Said to have been pioneered in ancient Egypt, where tomb paintings show the practice in detail, gavage was formalised in France in the 18th century and is now controlled or close to being banned in several countries. As with all things, practice differs from place to place and large producers are more inclined to use cruel methods involving pinning birds down and force-feeding them mechanically. Smaller concerns are more likely to raise the birds in free-range settings and only bring them in for the intensive feeding phase of the last two to three weeks of their lives, when they are fed by hand. Protections of the animals are such that conditions are humane and the force-feeding for birds which, in nature, would feed hugely before migrating, is not so ghastly as might be expected.