At the time of the feeding, the ducks huddled to the corner away from the feeder. After their turn on the feeding tube, they waddled -- seemingly unperturbed -- away.
"It's a non-event for these birds because their esophagus is not sensitive like ours. Their esophagus is flexible enough and durable enough that it would tolerate a struggling fish and all its spines," said Bartholf.
However, animal-rights activists lambast these claims and staunchly assert that force-feeding is inhumane.
"Most injuries caused by tissue damage during handling or tube insertion would result in pain. The oropharyngeal area is particularly sensitive and is physiologically adapted to perform a gag reflex in order to prevent fluids entering the trachea. Force feeding will have to overcome this reflex and hence the birds may initially find this distressing and injury may result," advised the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare (SCAHAW).
Before each feeding, the handlers palpate the duck's throat for the presence of pellets; if they feel the last meal, they will skip the next feeding because the bird didn't digest the last meal. If pellets are detected, the bird is marked with a blue dot.
Eight hours later, if pellets are still felt at the next feeding, this means the bird has reached its genetic potential for liver size, and it goes to the abattoir, or slaughterhouse.
At the slaughterhouse, the ducks are shocked with electrified water to stun them so that they are rendered unconscious. From there, their throats are slit to allow all the blood to drain from the animal.
"The heart has to continue beating so when the throat is cut, blood pumps out for a time. This is standard in all animal slaughter, although some religious customs preclude stunning. We are not comfortable with that. The bird has to be alive at the point where the throat is cut so the blood pumps out," said Marcus Henley, the operations manager of Hudson Valley Foie Gras.
"Blood left in the animal will cause spoilage and an animal not properly bled will be identified and rejected by the USDA inspectors. After stunning, the birds never feel pain and do not wake up," he continued. Waterbath stunning is a common practice in the poultry industry.
From there, the birds are cleaned, plucked and frozen overnight. The next day, the ducks are butchered for the foie gras and the other parts of duck Hudson Valley distributes - like the legs, thighs, breasts and fat.
While the ban in California has become highly publicized, the state is certainly not the first to move forward with such legislation: The production of foie gras is currently prohibited in more than a dozen countries, including Israel, Denmark, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) also does not support the practice.
"The production of fatty liver for foie gras however raises serious animal welfare issues and it is not a practice that is condoned by FAO," states the organization.
When asked why the ducks would not overfeed themselves naturally, Bartholf said ducks rely on external stimuli for three events: "egg-laying, migration and getting ready for a period of starvation."
In the controlled environment of the farm, ducks don't have these natural triggers.
In a recent TED talk, Dan Barber spotlighted a Spanish chef, Eduardo Sousa, who is raising geese for foie gras without force feeding -- allowing them to feed freely off his farm's land and slaughtering the birds right before migration, when the animals have naturally fattened their livers up.
No farm in the United States has successfully replicated this practice and thus, they still rely on force-feeding.
Despite the almost certain probability that the ban will go in effect on July 1, Yanay is convinced the force behind force-feeding will prevail, and the ban will ultimately be overturned.
"We're going to win. Trust me, we're going to win," said Yanay.