Down with down (and all feathers!)

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Down with down (and all feathers!)

Geese suffer terribly as they are plucked.

Down and feathers sometimes get left out of debates about animal cruelty, but that’s partly because many people just aren’t aware of the considerable suffering that goes into down-filled coats, pillows, or comforters, as well as all those pretty decorative feathers you see being worn with jewelry or as hair extensions.

The biggest issue is live-plucking.  While some feathers come from the carcasses of chickens and turkeys raised for food–these birds are dunked in boiling water, often while still alive, to remove their feathers–about 50% come from live-plucking.

A description of live-plucking, from an undercover investigation in Hungary, one of the three biggest down-producers in the world:

…birds on their backs screaming and struggling to free themselves…as their down is ripped from their bodies at rapid speed. Afterwards, several birds are left paralyzed on the ground with large flesh wounds. The birds with big gaping wounds are then sewn back together with needle and thread on site by the workers themselves and without any anesthetic.

Vancouver’s Animal Voices radio show also had a feature recently in which they discussed the recent trend of decorative feathers being used as hair extensions.  These feathers come from roosters who are bred specifically for their beautiful plumage, and then killed.

Learn more about down and other feathers at our page.


Isla Kay

July 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Very sad. I have the same down comforter that I’ve had since I was a kid but would never buy a down product, whether it’s a pillow, coat, sleeping bag, or comforter.

Any recommendations for comfy, warm alternatives?


July 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

Hey Isla,

Great question and something I definitely should have brought up in the blog. (Thanks!) Fortunately there are so many alternatives to down available now. When it comes to jackets, Primaloft is one of the most famous ones. There is also Thermal R and something called Omni-Heat, which I haven’t actually heard of. These down-alternatives are sold by companies such as North Face, Patagonia, Marmot, Columbia Sportswear, etcetera. Some of them are made with recycled materials as well. (Here’s a link I found:

As far as blankets, I can tell you that there are definitely quite a few alternatives. I believe they are specifically made for people with down allergies, but I’ve been using them for years and they are very warm and comfy. (I think we have a Primaloft?) Here’s another link, which provides reviews of 15 different down-free comforters:

Fatal fashion accessories: Feather hair extensions | Liberation BC blog

August 11, 2011 at 1:10 pm

[…] actually put up a post about feathers and down about two months ago, but I only mentioned at the end the burgeoning trend of wearing long rooster feathers as hair […]

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