A Cherry Valley duck is a handsome creature. The name of her breed, conjures up the image of a rural idyll. But her life, in a small corner of eastern China, is nasty and short.
She spends her 40-odd days on Earth in a makeshift barn, its walls slapped together with heavy plastic sheeting. She is packed into a small room with thousands of other ducks, walking on wooden slats through which her excrement falls. Inside the barn there is a cacophony of squeaks. The youngest emit high-pitched chirps. As the ducks age, their coats turn white and their calls deepen into honks.
In her six weeks inside the barn, [she] never once feels the sun on her back. But, she cannot escape the light. Bare fluorescent bulbs hang from the ceiling and are never turned off, so that she is stimulated to eat as often as possible. She reaches maturity roughly twice as fast as she would in the wild.
Around her 40th day, [she] is pushed down a chute at the back of the barn. Squawking madly, she is loaded into a crate and driven to her final destination. For a few seconds, she may even catch a glimpse of sky. She squawks ever more frantically as she is turned upside down and her feet are slotted into metal clamps on an aerial conveyor belt….