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First “round table” on animal welfare in the down and feather industry


Representatives of the down and feather industry met for the first time for a “round table: down and animal welfare”. Together with animal welfare charity FOUR PAWS, they discussed how the welfare of ducks and geese might be ensured along the entire supply chain. 

Four times more down can be produced by life feather plucking.

FOUR PAWS calls for transparency for the entire supply chain

At the moment most outdoor equipment, bed linen, fashion and sport equipment brands cannot guarantee that the down they use is free from animal cruelty; there is always a chance that a down product has entailed live feather plucking, or has supported force-feeding. The testing centre AgroVet demonstrated a system based on FOUR PAWS criteria. Along with FOUR PAWS, round-table participants included outdoor equipment manufacturers The North Face and Patagonia; the German Down and Feather Association (VDFI) representing the bed linen industry; and other clothing and down producers. The gathering was organised by the National Association of the German Sports Equipment Industry.

Patagonia and The North Face setting the trend
Patagonia plans to only use down produced without animal suffering from as early as September 2014. Their "Traceable Down Standard" should entirely eliminate live plucking and force-feeding. The North Face, meanwhile, is implementing its "Responsible Down Standard", and wishes to launch a cruelty-free down product line in autumn 2015. 

“At last the down and feather industry is starting to see animal welfare as a priority”, says lead of campaign farm animals Nina Jamal from FOUR PAWS. “The approaches demonstrated are a great step forward, and it’s great to see some makers getting to grips with traceability for down. This was a clear sign to us that the down industry will take serious steps in the future to finally protect ducks and geese from extreme animal cruelty. However, further improvements need to be made here and there: from the point of view of animal welfare it’s important to supervise the entire supply chain. As it’s the parent birds that are often plucked alive, that’s where monitoring has to begin”, explains Jamal.