Do you know what ‘Down’ is, where it comes from and how it is harvested?
There are mainly three methods used to remove down and body feathers and they all require the commodification, use and eventual deaths of the birds involved.
1. Post mortem (after slaughter):
For this method, feathers are removed from the birds’ bodies after they are killed for their flesh and/or internal organs (foie gras). The process usually involves scalding the birds’ bodies in hot water for one to three minutes so the feathers are easier to pull out. The body feathers can then be plucked (often by hand), after which the down is removed by hand or machine.
2. Live Plucking:
This is the most common and cheapest way – Prepare to feel sick after reading!
Live plucking is exactly what it sounds like: a goose or duck is held down by their neck or wings as the chest and belly feather are torn from their skin. When the skin rips during this process it is sewn up with a straight needle (no analgesic or sterilization used) and the bird is left to recover before the next “harvest of feathers.” This process is repeated every 6-7 weeks before the bird’s eventual slaughter or death from the trauma of the plucking process itself.
3. Gathering (live birds):
Gathering feathers from live geese [or ducks] is defined as removing feathers that are ripe due to the phenomenon of moulting and would refer to using a brushing or combing action to remove feathers or down which are ready to fall out.
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