Down and Feather as a byproduct
Most geese live five to six months before being sold for their meat. China is the world’s largest consumer and producer of Ducks and Geese. Duck and Goose meat is eaten more per capita in China than any other location in the world. Nearly 80% of the world’s down comes from China. With over 20% of the world’s population living in China it is no wonder that the majority of down comes as a byproduct from China. These Chinese waterfowl are treated humanely, and are not live plucked.
Live Plucking is Unpractical
Farmers have higher monetary returns for the meat of the birds than that of the down and feathers. Whereas the majority of the farmers income comes from the meat, it is not practical for farmers to be plucking the birds during their molting periods. Most live plucked farmers sell the down for extremely high costs to cover the cost of live plucking the birds. The majority of this material is sent to different parts of Asia where consumers are willing to pay ridiculously high prices for “luxury comforters”. Normal farmers do not have the means nor desire to live pluck.
Those that do practice in live plucking do so during molting periods. During these molting period, the birds would normally shed the unwanted down and feathers as a temperature control. The birds use their bill to pluck out the molting down and feathers. When a farmer does it, it speeds up the process by quickly removing the feathers and down for the bird. The down and feathers grow back quickly as they must prepare for the upcoming cold temperatures.
The reality is that very few farmers still live pluck. For centuries farmers plucked the geese and ducks for use in bedding. Within the past fifty years this process has almost stopped completely. Only in a few remote Eastern European countries does this practice still exist. The best way to ensure that the down and feathers are not live plucked is to discuss with the Down processing plant that you will not purchase live plucked down and feathers.