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Landmark moment as leading members of the down and feather industry meet to discuss animal welfare for the first time


Representatives of the down and feather industry met for the first time on Wednesday for a round-table meeting to discuss animal welfare issues in the down and feather industry, a development that could have huge implications for the future welfare of ducks and geese within the industry.

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

FOUR PAWS calls for transparency throughout the entire supply chain

Together with international animal welfare charity FOUR PAWS, participants discussed how the welfare of ducks and geese might be ensured along the entire supply chain. Currently, 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. 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
At the meeting, The North Face, Patagonia, and the VDFI presented their various traceability systems, which have been put in place to ensure they can guarantee that animal welfare standards are being upheld throughout the entire process of developing their products. The testing centre AgroVet demonstrated a system based on FOUR PAWS criteria. 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 Nina Jamal, Campaign Lead farm animals at FOUR PAWS. “The approaches demonstrated are a great step forward, and it’s great to see some suppliers getting to grips with traceability for down. This is 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 going forward: 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 Mrs. Jamal.