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.