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FOUR PAWS “40 Lives” campaign wins Eurogroup for Animals “Campaign4Animals” award


Jury won over by pioneering campaign against down from birds that have been plucked alive or force-fed

Brussel, 22 June 2017 – A special prize for the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS: on 21 June 2017 in Brussels, Eurogroup for Animals handed its “Campaign4Animals” award to the “40 Lives” campaign launched by FOUR PAWS in 2016. The award continues the success story of the campaign against the use of down from birds that have been plucked alive or force-fed. So far, 24 bedding manufacturers and retailers in Austria, Germany, the UK and Switzerland have committed to introducing improved controls aimed at eliminating these cruel practices. The winner of the award is chosen once a year by the members of Eurogroup for Animals.


Nina Jamal, head of farm animal campaigns at FOUR PAWS, is delighted with the win: “This award lets us celebrate long-term improvements in the living conditions of ducks and geese. We’ve worked long and hard to reach this goal. It’s wonderful to see our efforts bearing fruit in more than one way, and being well received.”


Awareness raising among retailers and consumers
FOUR PAWS started its campaign in 2016. Research showed that most European bedding retailers had no systems in place to ensure animal-friendly production. This meant that they could not exclude the possibility that the products they sold might contain down from birds that had been force-fed, or plucked while still alive. FOUR PAWS set about raising awareness not only within the industry, but also among consumers.

FOUR PAWS launched as a central element of the campaign. The name of the website refers to the 40 ducks and geese that are needed to produce down for just one bed duvet. In the style of a film festival, the website presents evocative short films and information on the issues of live feather plucking and force-feeding. FOUR PAWS also nominated the bedding retailers concerned for the “2017 Blood Feather Award”. Thousands of consumers voted online for the nominated companies. If these companies showed they were still unwilling to make changes, the dubious prize was awarded to them as part of a Red Carpet Event.


An entire industry is changing

The attention-grabbing campaign did not shoot wide of its target. Twenty-four bedding manufacturers in Austria, Germany, the UK and Switzerland have committed to carrying out stricter checks on their suppliers from now on. Additionally, the European down industry has been reviewing its own existing “Downpass” standard. The new 2017 Downpass obliges producers to check farms, and requires them to reject any down from ducks and geese that have been either live-plucked or force-fed. In the past, these conditions were merely optional.

Jamal explains: “The new 2017 Downpass demands significant improvements for the birds compared to earlier versions. We welcome this important step, and we are optimistic that the industry will continue to implement broader, stricter measures in the future.”


What are live feather plucking and force-feeding?
Live feather plucking is a particularly cruel way to obtain down. While being plucked, many birds are injured, and the wounds are usually stitched without anaesthetic. A goose may be plucked three to four times in its life. A more animal-friendly approach is to only pluck a bird’s feathers once it has been slaughtered.

Force-feeding involves introducing a tube into the oesophagus (feed pipe) of ducks and geese, and forcing boiled corn and fat – either manually or mechanically – into the birds’ stomachs. Mechanical systems deliver the feed in two to three seconds, allowing up to 400 birds to be force-fed every hour.