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Live Feather Plucking

Introduction and Animal Welfare concerns

Every year approximately one million geese are plucked alive for their feathers and down in Europe. This live plucking, also referred to as plucking during the moult or harvesting, takes place up to four times a year in the moulting season. The plucking is performed by so called ‘plucking brigades’, a group of pieceworkers which moves from farm to farm and plucks the animals. 
In the course of plucking the feathers are torn out from the chest, belly, back and neck. During this process, that in gaggles with an average geese count of a couple thousand lasts several days, many animals are injured permanently. The removal of down and feathers causes numerous skin injuries, some animals suffer severe wounds, fractured or twisted limbs. The wounds are sewed on site, without anaesthetics. Additionally the process of plucking, which in Hungary is regulated by law, causes enormous stress to the animals. They are often fixed for minutes and roughly transported to the plucking place by the neck or wings. During every plucking turn animals die as a result of plucking. Due to the extreme stress and panic reactions the animals are injured as they strangle each other on the fences or crush each other in the corners.
FOUR PAWS conducted a survey among the ten biggest goose producers in Hungary concerning their experiences during the plucking of live animals. The survey confirmed the documented cases; that injuries and their sewing by the pluckers, animal losses and the use of medicine before and after the plucking are the rule. FOUR PAWS holds footage documenting 20 cases of live plucking in the last two years which proves that violations of animal welfare happen on a regular basis and are inherent in the system.


Please find in the left column our position paper and EFSA opinion on live feather plucking