Using bird feathers for stuffing our pillows, duvets or clothes is not news. The news is that this became a very lucrative and widely ramified business, and most of the activities include complete villainly. Have you ever wondered how, exactly, feather arrives in our stores and in our lives?
There are two types of feathers: vaned feathers and down feathers. Vaned feathers are found on the wings and tail of a bird. They are longer and harder. This type of feathers is used for pillow cases or low-quality bedding. Down feathers cover the whole body, and its function is to protect the bird and keep it warm. They are softer and pliable and, hence, more sought after. So much that the breeders are not even patient enough to wait for animals becoming old and fat enough to be killed for food, but they pluck them alive.
Given that there are thousands of animals grown on farms, workers do not search for animals who are naturally losing their feathers, so, beside collecting fallen feathers, they also pluck birds. Typically, the animal's legs and wings are tied, and feathers are plucked without any anesthetics. Sometimes the workers do it so recklessly that the animal's skin is torn. It is then quickly sewn without using anesthetics. That torture begins when animal is only ten weeks old, it is repeated every six weeks, and ends when the animal is slaughtered for food.
Scared animals are often stuck, turned upside down, between the workers' legs during the painful plucking procedure. Sometimes workers sit on the goose's neck to make their job easier and to prevent the poor animal from escaping. This can lead to additional pain and injuries.
Geese are usually not fed the day before the plucking, to avoid getting the feathers dirty in the case the tortured animal vomits. Usually, the geese grown for eggs, beside all the horrors of the egg industry, suffer through this procedure somewhere between five and fiteen times in their life, and those grown for food four times.
According to current data, around 25 countries export feathers, and these are mostly Europian, Asian and North American countries. The biggest growers of animals for their feather are China and Hungary.
In February 2009, a Swedish documentary filmed for the purposes of TV show ''Kalla Fakta'' confirmed that 50 to 80 percent of total feather from China comes from live birds.
The same documentary also shows the ways in which alive birds are plucked in Hungary. After the workers finish their "job", they often leave animals alive and bloody, or they sew up their wounds by themselves, without using anesthetics.
Not only ducks, geese and chickens go through this torture. Ostrich feathers are used for decorations, masks, costumes. Although they were previously grown primarily for their feathers, today they are, unfortunately, grown also for their meat and skin. The plucking procedure is different in some respects. Namely, the ostriches are introduced to small cages where animals cannot defend themselves and then they are plucked alive. On average, this is done every seven months. Of course, after they kill them, they also use their feathers.
Using feathers collected at farms or plucked from slaughtered animals equally supports this cruel industry and animal killing. Besides, it is almost impossible to determine whether the feathers were plucked from alive or killed animals.
The only way to put an end to this cruel procedure and using animals because of their feathers is to not buy and use products which contain any amount of feathers. Today's modern non-animal materials are of higher quality and they do not cause allergies, while being considerably more acceptable from ethical and ecological point of view.
Published in August 2015