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Down: live feather plucking


There are two ways to obtain down: the plucking of already slaughtered animals and – the infinitely more brutal method – live plucking. The name says it all: geese and ducks are plucked while still alive. Up to four times in their miserably short lives their feathers are torn out of their bodies by human hands: from their necks, backs, stomachs and chests. Those geese and ducks that are kept for breeding purposes have to go through this agony even more often, and may be plucked up to 16 times in their lives. 

In one single farm more than 3,000 geese and ducks can be plucked within five hours

Live plucking is piecework, which means it has to be fast. More than 3,000 geese and ducks can be plucked by hand in less than five hours. The faster people need to work, the more imprecisely and brutally they do so. The results are deep wounds and injuries all over the bodies of the animals where the feathers have been ripped out. These injuries are sewn together unprofessionally and without any anaesthetic by the people that caused them. No vet has ever been near these animals.


EU: Live harvesting is nothing but live plucking

In this manner live plucking is still carried out in China, but also – although it is officially prohibited in the EU – in parts of the European Union such as Poland and Hungary. You may ask how this is possible: the European Union has allowed a legal loophole for those companies and farms still operating in the business of live plucking. Behind the synonym “live harvesting”, these companies are still allowed to proceed with this animal cruelty.


An alternative to live plucking is the practice of dead plucking, ie. removing the feathers after the animal has been slaughtered. As the animal is already dead, it doesn’t have to suffer the torture of the live plucking.


Down products are still very popular in the clothing and bedding industries. FOUR PAWS calls on consumers to consider the source of the down before buying any such products. 


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