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Top outdoor brands for down go cruelty free


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.

Quotes outdoor industry



The North Face
The North Face as an organization and via the newly released Traceable Down Standard is working to bring transparency and traceability to the down supply chain and further the ethical and humane treatment of animals."


“Patagonia Inc., the outdoor apparel company, is proud to announce the company's move to 100% Traceable Down across its entire collection of down-insulated products, starting in the Fall 2014 season. Patagonia® Traceable Down is sourced from birds that have been neither force-fed for foie gras production nor plucked for their feathers and down during their lifetime”.


Mammut first engaged with VIER PFOTEN in April 2012 and has since implemented important changes in its down supply chain, e.g. banning grey goose down. In a continuing dialogue with VIER PFOTEN and exponents of the outdoor industry, Mammut aims at defining, achieving and advancing best practice in down purchasing. For Mammut, the cooperation with other brands is key to effectively improve animal welfare."


“JACK WOLFSKIN has laid down the principle that no down and feathers are used which come from animals that are live-plucked or force-fed during their life. We source down and feather exclusively from down and feather suppliers who work with „machine pluck“ or „hand pluck“, both occurring after the birds have been killed. We are looking forward to working with FOUR PAWS and other relevant stakeholders within the industry to establish a standard for responsible down. For this purpose we suggested entering into a dialogue with all stakeholders.”



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