As more and more shoppers refuse to buy products for which live birds’ down feathers were yanked out, companies have begun trying to reassure customers by making claims stating that no birds have been live-plucked in their supply chain. But new undercover footage released by PETA Germany takes people inside a slaughterhouse where geese and ducks are killed for their feathers—and reveals why down can never be considered “ethical” or “responsible.”
This never-before-seen footage from Poland—the world’s second-largest exporter of down—shows workers roughly handling, kicking, electrocuting, and cutting the throats of ducks and geese, many of whom were likely still conscious.
Despite knowing about the cruelty inherent in down, Urban Outfitters Inc. continues to sell it, including from brands using suppliers that obtain it from Poland. Urban Outfitters must be held accountable for supporting this abusive industry.
Please watch the eye-opening footage and then take action to help stop this abuse.
Down Is Always a Product of Animal Suffering
PETA Germany released footage from inside a Polish slaughterhouse, an operation that specializes in killing ducks and geese for their feathers and flesh. Their feathers are then sold to fashion and bedding manufacturers all over the world.
Eyewitnesses filmed slaughterhouse workers grabbing birds and pulling them out of cramped, filthy transport cages by their legs and carrying them upside down, in direct violation of the Council of Europe’s handling recommendations.
Many ducks and geese hit their heads on the grate flooring during the fast, careless unloading process. Others were dropped and ran around, panicking, disregarded for several minutes. Some hid beneath the transport trucks, and no one worried that they could be injured or killed when the trucks moved.
One worker kicked a terrified escaped duck, causing the bird to go rolling across pavement.
After Botched Stunning, Birds Struggle While Bleeding to Death
Ducks and geese were slammed into shackles upside-down on a conveyor belt as they flapped wildly, either out of pain or in a desperate attempt to escape.
They were then dragged through a tub of electrified water meant to stun them before slaughter. But birds were still wildly beating their wings and trying to lift their heads even after their throats were cut, indicating that they were probably still conscious and able to feel pain as they slowly bled to death.
PETA Germany, in cooperation with a Polish attorney, reported the abuse documented at the slaughterhouse to the office of the public prosecutor responsible, and investigations have been initiated.
Birds Forced to Live Amid Feces and Urine in Cramped Enclosures
The eyewitnesses also visited farms where ducks and geese are raised. Crammed by the thousands into dirty sheds or enclosures, the birds were forced to stand in their own excrement and likely suffered from painful urine scald on their feet and ammonia burns to their eyes. They were denied any water to swim in—a basic necessity for waterfowl—and had no way to clean themselves.
Geese and ducks are also used for meat, so they’re usually bred to grow much larger and faster than they would in nature, and many become crippled under their own bodyweight. Keeping sick birds in crowded, unsanitary conditions creates the perfect breeding grounds for dangerous zoonotic diseases like bird flu.
The Down Industry Exposed—Again
PETA entities’ eight previous exposés of the down industry have revealed similar abuses at farms and slaughterhouses around the world. In 2012, PETA U.S. released footage of workers tearing live geese’s feathers out, a process known as “live plucking.” In the years that followed, companies faced a loss of confidence by consumers, so they came up with international standards claiming to ensure “responsible,” “non live-plucked” down.
But when PETA U.S. and PETA Asia went inside farms connected to these certified and “responsible” companies, they uncovered shocking cruelty that cast significant doubt on down standards. Investigators spoke with suppliers to these so-called “responsible” and “non live-pluck” companies, and they admitted to buying and selling live-plucked down. One buyer even bragged about misleading customers, and an industry representative remarked, “We advertised that it’s all plucked after slaughter—nobody dares to buy it if you say it’s live-plucked.” Their solution? Mislabel their live-plucked down as “non live-plucked” so that people will buy it. And as PETA Germany’s newly released footage shows, just because birds weren’t live-plucked doesn’t mean that there wasn’t any cruelty.
Tell Urban Outfitters to Ditch Down!
Ducks are outgoing, social animals who sleep huddled together at night and even have regional accents. Geese are loyal, protective birds who mate for life and refuse to leave the side of a sick or injured partner. But the down industry treats these gentle animals as nothing more than feather-producing machines. There are many options for pillows, comforters, and coats that don’t hurt ducks and geese, including innovative insulators made from bamboo fibers, flowers, coconut shell derivatives, milkweed, and even recycled plastic bottles. Ducks and geese need their feathers—we don’t.