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Gray Goose Farms
TODD COPELAND

Gray Goose Farms

Force-Fed, Not Live-Plucked
The use of goose down for consumer products is not without its controversy. Animal rights groups have sensitized many of us to some of the inhumane practices associated with this industry. Live-plucking is one of them, whereby down is pulled from live birds. This is said to feel like having your hair pulled out. Force-feeding geese to produce fatty liver, or foie gras, is another controversial practice, in which a tube is inserted down a goose’s throat to fill the goose with food and fatten its liver.

Force-feeding is allowed and prevalent in Hungary, where we get our gray goose down. The same is true of France, the biggest market for foie gras. But in many European countries it is banned. Live-plucking is against the law in all European Union countries, though regulations do permit “live-harvesting,” which means removing down from birds when they are molting. Live-harvesting is purportedly not painful for geese.

We want to give our customers the highest assurance possible that the geese that supply us with down are treated humanely. There is a lot of chain of custody documentation providing good traceability of down from the farm level to the slaughterhouse thanks to Hungarian food industry laws. The chain of custody, however, is not as robust from slaughterhouse to down processors. We’ve begun implementing a plan to improve document linkage, labeling and separation of our down at all levels of the supply chain, including the garment factories, to ensure it’s not mixed in with live-plucked material. We’ve also begun formulating a plan to move away from gray goose down that comes from the foie gras supply chain.

Watch this slide show to learn more.