Watch These Eye-Opening PETA Videos and You’ll Never Buy Down Again
Ducks are social, outgoing, and happiest when they’re with their “paddling,” a close-knit group of family members and friends. They swim and fly together in formation and even have regional accents. These birds feel fear and pain like humans do and share the same desire to enjoy their lives free of suffering. They need their feathers—we don’t. Shocking exposés by PETA entities have shown the world that ducks and geese suffer terribly when they’re exploited by the down industry.
What Is Down?
Down is the soft layer of feathers closest to birds’ skin that helps insulate them from the cold. These feathers are highly valued by manufacturers of down clothing and comforters because they don’t have quills. Most down and other feathers are removed from ducks and geese during slaughter, but birds in breeding flocks and those raised for meat may be plucked repeatedly while they’re still alive.
Is Down Production Humane?
All down feathers come from ducks and geese who are killed in a violent, painful way. The birds are often picked up by their necks, wings, or feet and crammed into crates for a grueling journey through all weather extremes to the slaughterhouse. There, many of them are inadequately stunned before their throats are cut, so they’re often still conscious when they’re dumped into defeathering tanks full of scalding-hot water.
Some companies try to “humane wash” their sale of down by hiding behind the dubious Responsible Down Standard (RDS) certification or using terms like “ethically sourced” or “non live-plucked” to describe the feathers stuffed into their products. These marketing buzzwords mean nothing to the birds whom farmers and slaughterhouse workers exploit and kill for their body parts.
The RDS claims “to ensure that down and feathers do not come from supply chains where animals have been subjected to any unnecessary harm.” However, as documented in multiple PETA entity investigations, these standards are rarely enforced.
Is Down Production Cruel?
In 2015, PETA entities, including PETA Asia, set out to visit farms across China and see firsthand the various ways in which down was obtained. Investigators saw workers rip geese’s feathers out—leaving open, bloody wounds—while the birds were still conscious. Many birds struggled and cried out in terror and pain as workers tore their feathers out, while others froze, paralyzed with fear.
In 2016, a PETA video exposé of Culver Duck Farms Inc.—the second-largest duck slaughterer in the U.S.—revealed that ducks were kicked, thrown, slammed against walls, and kept in isolation for weeks. Culver, which slaughters 25,000 ducks every day, boasted that its duck feathers “are in high demand for down,” and a supervisor told PETA’s eyewitness that 30,000 pounds of feathers are sent to China weekly. Here’s a look at what anyone buying duck meat or down-filled jackets could be supporting:
Things at Culver apparently didn’t get any better for ducks in the years that followed. In February 2022, a Culver whistleblower’s video and photographs showed injured and dying ducks, others who were suffocated and buried alive, and dozens of live ducklings who were ground up while still conscious. According to the whistleblower, Culver ground up dozens of ducklings every day in its hatchery. Ducklings there whom workers deemed unprofitable were reportedly thrown into a grinder while they were still chirping.
In 2017, PETA’s eyewitness exposé of James Valley Colony Farms—which bred 130,000 geese per year for their feathers and flesh—revealed that workers rounded up panicked animals, grabbing and carrying them by the neck, and crammed them into densely packed cages for transport to slaughter. Some geese were left in the filthy crates for up to 24 hours without food or water, including during a trip to the slaughterhouse that lasted over five hours.
For 13 months, between November 2021 and November 2022, PETA Asia investigators visited duck farms and slaughterhouses in Vietnam connected to companies that sell “responsible” down, including GAP Inc., Guess, and H&M, exposing unspeakable cruelty to ducks. What they uncovered shows why even purportedly “responsible” down is never ethical or humane. See the shocking footage for yourself and take action for ducks by urging companies to end their use of down:
A disturbing 2022 PETA undercover investigation into Maple Leaf Farms, which claims to be North America’s leading duck producer and to sell “humanely raised” duck meat, reveals that ducklings were tossed around and ground up alive the very day they hatched. This video shows what you could be funding when you buy roast duck, duck sausage, duck-fat French fries, or a down comforter:
In 2022, PETA Asia investigated RDS-certified goose farms in Russia—which exports down to countries around the world—revealing that geese were beheaded with a dull axe while they were still conscious. See what happens to geese who are slaughtered for “responsible” down:
The same year, PETA Germany released undercover footage from inside a Polish slaughterhouse that specializes in killing ducks and geese for their feathers and flesh. The feathers are then sold to fashion and bedding manufacturers all over the world. Watch as workers roughly handle, kick, electrocute, and cut the throats of ducks and geese, many of whom were likely still conscious:
You Can Help Stop This Abuse
In nature, ducks and geese are meticulously clean and love to preen their feathers to stay healthy—free of dust, dirt, and parasites—and to keep themselves looking nice for potential life mates. But in the down industry, they’re kept in filthy, feces-filled enclosures with no way to groom themselves or choose a mate. In their natural homes, ducks and geese typically have miles of territory to explore, but those used for their feathers are confined to cramped quarters with hundreds of others, which can lead to injuries that often go without veterinary care.
Next time you shop for a winter jacket or some new bedding, remember: There’s no such thing as ethical or responsible down. If it was taken from a bird, someone suffered. The best way to end the exploitation of these sensitive individuals is to refuse to buy items containing down and instead choose stylish and functional vegan down-free options.
By taking the actions below, you can urge multiple retailers to do the right thing by pulling all down items off their shelves. And please share this page with your friends, family members, and social media followers. Let them know that wearing down—like wearing fur, leather, wool, and every other animal-derived material—supports cruelty.