Even though the down we collect would otherwise be waste from the poultry industry, we feel it is our responsibility to also account for the welfare of the birds. There are two particular animal welfare issues that are endemic to our industry. The first is the horrific practice of live plucking, and the other is collecting material from birds that have been force fed for the Foie Gras industry. 

Live plucking is the practice of tearing down out of the bellies of the live birds.

Older birds will molt and shed much like a dog wants to shed its undercoat. Traditionally, this material would be collected as these birds naturally molt on smaller farms and sold as a very high quality high fill power down. But as industrialization increased, the practice became an opportunity for farmers to monetize whether the birds were molting or not. 

Most birds in the industrial farms go to processing for food at between 6-8 weeks for Duck in China and 12-16 for Goose (both are slightly older in Europe). In the vast majority of the supply chain, there is no possibility for live plucking since the birds are so young at time of processing. Live plucking only has the possibility to happen on parent farms where the birds are allowed to live for several years. But even at that, there has only ever been evidence of this happening at White Goose Farms. So considering the global supply chain, it is 1/4 of a small percent of the total farms that is even at risk. It has been estimated that only 1-2% of the down supply chain is at risk for this practice. And the material collected will alway test at 800 fill power or above. Because this is the higher value down, anything that is not white goose down above 800 fill power isn’t even at risk for this practice. 

The second issue – and perhaps more controversial depending on where you live – is the procurement of down coming from birds force fed for the Foie Gras industry. This is where duck and geese just prior to processing will be force fed a diet of corn to enlarge their livers for Foie Gras. Like almost everything, this stems from a natural process whereby the birds natural gorge themselves prior to migration. However, the way this is handled on an industrial level is the reason we will never purchase down from birds raised in farms and processed for Foie Gras. 

Aside from those two unique issues we deal with, we continue to work with farms to constantly improve the lives of the birds and constantly reconsidering what  “best practices” mean to animal welfare organizations.