Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Animal Welfare: Geese and Ducks Suffer for Down

Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to birds’ skin, primarily in the chest region. These feathers are highly valued because they do not have quills. Most products labeled “down” contain a combination of these underfeathers and other feathers or fillers. While most down and feathers are removed from birds during slaughter, geese from breeding flocks and those raised for meat and foie gras may be live-plucked. In countries where this cruel practice continues, up to 5 ounces of feathers and down are pulled from each bird every six weeks from the time that they are 10 weeks old until they are up to 4 years old.

Plucking geese causes them considerable pain and distress. One study of chickens’ heart rates and behaviors determined that “feather removal is likely to be painful to the bird(s),” and another study found that the blood glucose level of some geese nearly doubled (a symptom of severe stress) during plucking.

Typically, ducks and geese are lifted by their necks, their legs tied, and their breast feathers are ripped out. The struggling birds often sustain injuries during plucking. They are then returned to their cage until they are ready to be plucked again. This process begins when the animals are 8 weeks old and is repeated at 6-8 week intervals until the birds are slaughtered.

Feathers are often plucked out of ducks and geese raised for food. Those raised for foie gras, especially, suffer terribly. They are force-fed—a funnel is inserted into each bird’s throat, and up to 6 pounds of a salty, fatty corn mash is pumped into the stomach each day—until the bird's liver has ballooned to four times the normal size.

Eider ducks are a protected species, but their feathers are sought out for bedding and clothing. The females lay eggs and surround them with feathers plucked from their own breasts. Farmers in Iceland gather more than 6,500 pounds of Eider duck feathers each year. By taking these feathers, farmers are removing important insulation that the eggs need to hatch. It takes feathers from at least 80 nests to fill just one comforter.

- source PETA

For further information follow link: DOWN

We use ethically sourced, organic wool balls instead of feathers as we do not want to contribute in any way to the abuse of animals. The argument that most feathers are a by product of the meat industry does not satify us due to large scale intensive farming of birds for the meat industry where the welfare standards for these birds cannot be guaranteed.

Feather fillers are also treated with chemical flame retardants and will off-gas toxic gases which are known to cause symptoms such as nausea, coughing, allergic reactions and fatigue, and according to the World Health Organisation, can cause cancer in humans and animals.

Image by www.freeimages.co.uk

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