Severe pain and distress: live plucking of geese exposed in Poland farms despite EU-wide ban

FOUR PAWS reveals animal welfare violations on almost half of investigated farms 


London, 2 November 2022 – New video footage from global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS reveals brutal scenes of geese being plucked alive on several farms across Poland – a painful and cruel procedure that is forbidden in the UK and across the EU.  

The violent scenes of cruelty shared with and by FOUR PAWS, show that of 35 visited farms across Poland, almost half were reportedly forcibly removing down from live geese.  

The disturbing footage documents geese vocalising and excessively flapping their wings while being plucked alive, indicating severe pain and distress. Some animals can even be seen lying dead. 

“This video shows the hidden cruelty that can occur in the world of fashion when we see prioritisation of profit over the welfare of animals. Animals should never be made to suffer, especially at the expense of clothing.” 

Jessica Medcalf, animal welfare in fashion expert at FOUR PAWS

Gathering feathers during natural molting cycles is legally permitted, which creates a profitable loophole for geese farmers and fashion brands that may not have committed to standards prohibiting live plucking in their supply chains. Current brands not committed to these standards include Prada, Max Mara and Michael Kors.

“When geese are in their molting cycle, it is possible to collect feathers with a lower impact. But since not all animals molt at the same time, farmers are motivated to collect as much and as quickly as possible, and this often happens by brutally plucking the birds whilst they are still alive. 

“In this latest investigation, we have been shocked to find in that live plucking is prevalent in parent stock farms. These birds are kept for a lot longer and there is much more opportunity to pluck them alive. We estimate geese kept in parent farms can suffer the severe pain of live plucking 16 times before being slaughtered.” 

Jessica Medcalf, animal welfare in fashion expert at FOUR PAWS

In stark contrast to the above fashion brands, others including H&M, Patagonia and The North Face are instead spearheading animal-friendly developments by implementing certain animal welfare standards or switching to animal-free alternatives.  

Despite it being illegal to live pluck birds in the UK, we are still importing millions of pounds worth of feathers every year from these cruel farms, to be sold as duvets or winter coats.  

FOUR PAWS are urging more fashion brands to take similar action and ensure their down supply chain is free from live plucking, and ideally transition to animal-free alternatives. 

Statistics show, that only 5% of globally manufactured down and feathers are sourced responsibly, and with winter fast approaching, many customers around the world will choose down jackets for their daily wardrobe without knowing about the underlying animal welfare problems.

“Consumers can help by choosing products filled with equally warm animal-free alternatives, or, at the very least, look for certified down products where brands and product manufacturers can ensure the entire down supply chain is free from live plucking.”

Jessica Medcalf, animal welfare in fashion expert at FOUR PAWS

Head of Communications UK: Hannah Baker

Hannah Baker

Head of Communications UK

020 7922 7954

07966 032 235

7 - 14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR


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