The force feeding of ducks or geese required to prepare foie gras (French "fatty liver") is widely known and banned in some states. I was at a restaurant last night which offered "Chicken Liver Mousse." It was creamy, delicious, and quite reminiscent of foie gras. In fact, many chefs are turning to this as a foie gras alternative.

The only discussion I've found on this is from this Reddit post. Other sites' preparation instructions do not discuss initial chicken treatment to get such a liver texture.

I'm curious if chickens are force fed to marbleize their livers in much the same way that ducks are. Have we just transitioned from one bird to another?

  • 2
    Hi Growler, that's an interesting question, thanks for joining the site. I changed your title - this is something we do very rarely, but after years of moderating, I am pretty certain that the old title would have gotten a lot of attention of the worst kind, with people starting to argue about definitions and morals and airing opinions and prejudices in public, without even reading the question body. The concrete question in your body is objectively answerable, so I tried to reflect that in the title in a neutral way.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 14:23
  • @rumtscho very good point! Great catch. Thanks for the edit.
    – user3871
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 14:24
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    Force-feeding is not actually required for foie gras (although it is the most common method). You'll also notice that most chickens are raised in horrific crowded conditions. If animal cruelty is your concern here, you need to be careful what you put in your plate in both cases.
    – njzk2
    Commented Nov 13, 2020 at 23:16
  • As such, of course not. To achieve some particular taste, perhaps. Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 23:28

5 Answers 5


There's no need to force-feed the chickens.
Chicken Liver Mousse is just a posh word for a smooth paté, with sometimes a bit of extra aeration.
For every chicken, there's a chicken liver. The world eats a lot of chicken these days, so there's a lot of chicken liver to spare. All you need to add is butter for the extra fat content & resulting mouth-feel.

At its simplest, it's chicken liver, lightly sautéed in butter &/or oil, added onion or garlic, herbs & spices, alcohol, cream etc to taste, then whizzed in a blender until perfectly smooth. It's often not really a mousse, as it's not really fully aerated, but extra aeration makes it tend further towards an actual mousse, which the cooling butter will attempt to hold in place. You could go further perhaps using gelatine etc to hold the mousse as it cools.


The non-migrating chicken is different from the migrating goose; force-feeding will not result in a liver with a significant higher fat content. The chicken liver plays a role in producing fat but not in storing it in itself.

The adipose fat in chicken is mainly in the subcutaneous (under the skin), abdominal (stomach) and clavicular (shoulders) region[1] (study looked at ages 4 and 14 days only). See also another study[3] which is bit broader.

Alshamy et al. [2] found no adverse effects to the livers of chicken under a high energy diet. They compared two different chicken lines, a dual-use line (Lohmann Dual) and a broiler (Ross 308). The Lohmann Dual had 9% more lipids (fat) in the liver than the broiler.

Average fat content in chicken liver (the Korean study I found says "Ross breed" which are broilers but there are many Ross breeds) is about 2.9% for that line[5]. As this is a Korean study it might be interesting to know that the fat content as listed in the USDA is 4.8gr per 100gr (https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171060/nutrients).

Geese on the other side need reserve for migration. That reserve is fat and it is mainly stored in the liver[4].

Fat content of Foi Gras (liver of force-fed geese) according to the USDA is about 44gr per 100gr (https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171100/nutrients). The product listed in the USDA is canned smoked Foi Gras*. Another, french, source (https://www.lanutrition.fr/bien-dans-son-assiette/aliments/viandes/le-foie-gras-et-votre-sante) has the fat content of raw goose liver ("Foi Gras d'Oie" in French) at ~55gr per 100gr if force-fed.

There seems to be a small movement to use the naturally fattened liver by slaughtering them at the times when they prepare for migration. I can only give the source I found in Wikipedia that a Spanish company won a French price (https://web.archive.org/web/20071128130319/http://www.regiondigital.com/modulos/mod_periodico/pub/mostrar_noticia.php?id=47071) for their Foi Gras produced without force-feeding. An animal friendly (besides the slaughtering) Tournedo Rossini? Mmmh, I wish I could afford that!

If you are not familiar with the recipe for Tournedos Rossini: it is basically a thick slice of roasted Brioche topped by a nice tournedo topped by a thick slice of Foi Gras topped by a thick slice of black truffle (Perigord truffle, Tuber melanosporum) topped by a generous ladleful of Madeira sauce.

[1] Shiping Bai et al. "Broiler chicken adipose tissue dynamics during the first two weeks post-hatch", Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A Mol. Integr. Physiol. 2015 Nov;189:115-23, DOI: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2015.08.002 , abstract at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2626385

[2] Z. Alshamy et al. "Structure and age-dependent growth of the chicken liver together with liver fat quantification: A comparison between a dual-purpose and a broiler chicken line" in PLoS One 2019 Dec 27;14(12):e0226903.. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0226903

[3] A. M. Fouad et al., "Nutritional Factors Affecting Abdominal Fat Deposition in Poultry: A Review" in Asian-Australas. J. Anim. Sci. 2014 Jul; 27(7): 1057–1068. at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4093572/

[4] Guosong Wang et al., "Transcriptomic analysis between Normal and high-intake feeding geese provides insight into adipose deposition and susceptibility to fatty liver in migratory birds" in BMC Genomics volume 20, Article number: 372 (2019). at https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12864-019-5765-3

[5] Pil Nam Seong et al., "Characterization of Chicken By-products by Mean of Proximate and Nutritional Compositions", Korean J. Food Sci. Anim. Resour. 2015; 35(2): 179–188. at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4682518/

* Smoked? Really?


Mousse is a product made from the liver. It is usually mixed with spices, and aromatics, and whipped or mixed into a paste, then cooked. It is typically made from chicken, pork, duck, or goose. Gavage (the technical term for the feeding via a feeding tube) is sometimes used to fatten ducks or geese. The liver becomes enlarged and is very rich, but not really marbled, as you suggest. The liver from these birds is know as fois gras. While fois gras can be made into a mousse, it also has other applications. As for chickens, gavage is not used, and a mousse can be made from their liver.

  • This doesn't really answer the question, which is whether chickens are force-fed to produce chicken liver mousse. It alludes to it by mentioning that ducks and geese can be force-fed to produce foie gras while omitting chickens from the list, but it's better to explicitly state that.
    – Doktor J
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 21:26
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    @DoktorJ edited.
    – moscafj
    Commented Nov 16, 2020 at 21:34


We don't force feed chicken (*) the same way we do for Ducks or Geese.

Liver mousse is made from regular chicken liver.

(*) AFAIK, and I never heard of that.

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    Does "we" mean you work in the poultry industry? Commented Nov 14, 2020 at 22:08


In that SAME source you quoted, the chicken liver is referenced as " free-range chicken liver"

I would think this rather clearly answers your question, no?

  • 1
    Only one chef explicitly mentions that the chicken livers he uses are free-range. Also another chef uses calves liver, described as free-range. Commented Nov 15, 2020 at 12:22

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