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Top outdoor brands commit to quit using down from animal cruelty


Achievement comes after more than 5 years of campaigning on the part of FOUR PAWS

Some of the biggest global outdoor brands such as The North Face, Patagonia, Mammut, Jack Wolfskin and Vaude have recently committed to go free of force feeding and live plucking of geese and ducks. “The foie gras industry lost face to The North Face’s resolute step away from force feeding and live plucking. Together with the other brands that also committed we now have top quality jacket and sleeping bag producers setting new global animal welfare standards”, said Gabriel Paun, Director of Campaigns at FOUR PAWS.

The outdoor industry uses hundreds of tons of down that come from millions of geese and ducks. The production chain is vast and has various weak points. To trace every single feather and down from the farm to a jacket, a pair of pants or sleeping bag will be a big challenge. Checks will include hatcheries, farms, slaughterhouses, transport and washing facilities. Transparency from the brands towards the public is essential to complete the picture of safety.


FOUR PAWS has been doing research and gaining expertise on the down industry for years. Therefore, outdoor brands have been informed about it and invited to take advantage of the best available practices in ensuring animal welfare is granted at the highest security level.


“Commitment builds historical momentum but efforts by brands towards animal welfare are at different levels of safety and transparency. Our next expectation is to see a secure and transparent traceability system in place agreed by all brands. The next important step is to work with all the different supply chain parties to find ways to ensure that down coming from animals that have been force fed or live plucked can be excluded. We will help the brands to eliminate animal cruelly from their supply chains and to create robust traceability systems to prove that their products do not contain down from cruel farming”, added Paun.


Live plucking is an especially cruel production practice: During the plucking the animals are often injured and wounds are stitched without the use of anaesthetics. An animal can be used for plucking three to four times during its life. To be force fed, each bird has a feeding tube inserted into its oesophagus, and then boiled maize mixed with fat is delivered by an auger (a screw which is operated by hand or an electric motor) or a pneumatic or hydraulic system. Mechanised systems may deliver the feed in just 2-3 seconds, allowing one person to force feed up to 400 caged ducks or geese in an hour.


Hungary and Poland are top European producers for goose, followed by France, Germany and the United Kingdom. France is Europe’s top producer of duck, followed by Germany, Hungary, UK and the Netherlands.


The FOUR PAWS campaign to end force feeding, cage keeping and live plucking of geese and ducks follows the wish of consumers who are interested in buying down from animals that have not been the victims of such practices”, adds Gabriel Paun. In order to meet their expectations, FOUR PAWS created a “positive list” of producers that avoid these practices. The list is already used by many supermarkets in their meat procurement.