“Responsible” Down: Beware * Don’t Buy * Don’t Wear!

Do not be fooled by claims of “responsible” or “humanely-obtained” feathers or down.

A company called Allied Feather + Down (www.alliedfeather.com) labels its feather-down-filled wearing apparel as “sustainably sourced” and “responsibly sourced.” Environmental buzzwords like “sustainable” and “responsible” comfort customers with visions of environmentally-friendly feather-farming. Similarly, feathers and other avian products may be marketed as “humanely sourced” when in fact these products come from factory-farmed birds and are neither environmentally friendly nor humane.

dead feathers
Photo by Society for the Advancement of Animal Wellbeing

While the term “factory farmed” normally refers to animals raised and slaughtered for food, it applies to all commercially mass-produced animals. The following promotional statement by Allied Feather + Down suggests that the ducks raised for this company have their feathers ripped out – perhaps multiple times – before the survivors are slaughtered for duck meat.

Industrial Farm

Today, down is collected from farms and collectors following the raising of these birds for sustenance.

“The value of the down and feathers in this supply chain are estimated at between 2% and 5% of the value of the bird. An overwhelming amount of the value comes from the meat. This is why no birds are simply raised for their down alone. It’s also interesting to note that the changes we have pushed for in building a standard like the Responsible Down Standard don’t only benefit the outdoor and apparel industry but have made marked changes to the global poultry supply chain.” – Allied Feather + Down

Down – the soft, tight breast feathers of birds – is pulled by workers from factory-farmed ducks and geese, leaving them bleeding in excruciating pain. Other feathers are byproducts of the foie gras industry, in which ducks and geese are force-fed with metal tubes to produce diseased livers for gourmet appetizers.

Birds who are not plucked alive but whose feathers are similarly stuffed in pillows, comforters, and clothing are packed in filthy sheds the same as the live-plucked birds. Ornamental feathers and fishing lures are pulled from the tail feathers of roosters who are factory-farmed solely for this purpose and then trashed. Whiting Farms in Colorado (www.whitingfarms.com) keeps blood off the feathers by gassing the birds painfully to death by forcing them to breathe carbon dioxide (CO2). Every inhalation to try to get oxygen and expel the poisonous gas from their lungs tightens the slow strangulation and agony of suffocation.

Allied Feather + Dow receipt showing certifications
Allied Feather + Down receipt

What Can I Do?
  • If you are thinking of buying a feather fashion accessory, please don’t. Choose feather-free jewelry and other ornaments.

  • Do not buy a coat, jacket, comforter, pillow or other clothing, bedding or household product filled or decorated with feathers/down, fleece or fur. When making hotel reservations, ask that foam-filled pillows and coverlets be in your room when you arrive. When you get to your room, examine the pillows and read the tag. It will say if the filler is feathers/down or polyester/foam. If your request has been overlooked, politely ask the front desk to replace the feather/down pillows with feather-free ones and explain why.

  • Purchase and distribute our handouts, “Birds Suffer Horribly for Pillows & Coats” and “The Truth About Feather Hair Extensions.”
    Order by check or money order, or through our website at
    www.upc-online.org/merchandise.
    10 for $1.00 * 25 for $2.50 * 50 for $5.00.