Down is frequently used in puffer jackets, sleeping bags, and in other clothing and bedding items that are designed to keep people warm. But did you know that down is often sourced using a practice called live plucking or from birds which have been force-fed for foie gras?
Live plucking is a widespread and barbaric practice that has no place in today’s world. Hidden from view, geese and ducks are restrained while their feathers and down are torn out1 without the use of any pain relief. Rough handling causes wing and leg fractures, and wounds caused by feathers being torn out are roughly sewn shut without anesthetic. Live plucking can be repeated every five weeks, when new down and feathers are torn out and wounds re-opened.
During force-feeding, a metal pipe is rammed into the geese or ducks’ throats and a mixture of corn and pure fat is administered through this pipe, three times a day. Their livers are unable to properly process these large amounts of fat, resulting in abnormal pathologic degeneration, to the extent that their livers can grow up to 10 times its normal size. Down from force-fed animals ends up in jackets, pillows, and comforters too.
This is no life for an animal.
“When up to 3,000 geese are plucked by hand in five hours, one can imagine how brutal the handling of these birds can be. They often suffer injuries, wounds that are clumsily treated, without any kind of pain relief.”
Nina Jamal, Head of Farm Animal Campaigns at FOUR PAWS
What are we doing?
FOUR PAWS has been addressing the cruelty that geese and ducks face in the down industry for nearly a decade. And as long as geese and ducks are raised for meat and their down is used, FOUR PAWS will push to ensure that they have a life free of pain and suffering and a life where their essential needs are met.
Through our campaigns, we have achieved amazing success in the outdoor clothing and bedding industries. FOUR PAWS has engaged major brands in the outdoor industry, such as The North Face and Patagonia, and has taken part in processes that have led to setting up industry-wide traceability and animal welfare standards: Responsible Down Standard (RDS), a Textile Exchange-owned standard, and Global Traceable Down Standard (TDS) an NSF-owned standard.
In Europe, FOUR PAWS convinced bedding retailers to commit to only selling feather and down products that are free of live plucking and force feeding. Some companies responded quickly, others needed more pressure, but we didn’t give up until every last one had turned their backs on the barbaric practice of live plucking.
All of these changes are only possible when people stand with us, when we unite and make it known that we expect better for animals.
We will continue to expose the truth behind fashion and to speak out for animals. And thousands of people are now joining us, taking the Wear it Kind pledge and demanding kindness, traceability, and accountability in fashion.
We also offer our expertise to assist with the development and improvement of animal welfare certification systems, including the Responsible Down Standard, by taking part in its multi-stakeholder consultation processes.
Head of Programs for FOUR PAWS Germany Denise Schmidt hands Bloody Feather award to fashion company Karstadt.
Did you know?
40 ducks and geese are plucked to make just one duvet.
How can you help?
- Today many brands including Patagonia, Kathmandu, The Northface and Fjallraven offer down-free insulated jackets. They are just as warm, and feel extra amazing because no animal has suffered to make them.
- If you do want to purchase down, at a minimum ensure it is Responsible Down Standards certified. While this provides some assurance, with so many animal-free alternatives available today, it’s never been easier to shop cruelty free!
- Retailers respond to consumer pressure, so ask your retailer to stock animal-free alternatives to down.
- And, if you haven’t already, please take the Wear it Kind pledge today!