• allied feather + down  
animal welfare farms china
[ animal-welfare-farms-china ]

It is important to start with the knowledge that almost all down sold to the apparel and bedding industries is a by-product of the food industry. It is estimated that down only accounts for 2-8% the total value of the bird. No birds are being raised solely for their down.

If everyone stopped buying down products, it would have no effect on the amount of birds being raised.

There are, however, significant concerns within the supply chain and ALLIED does everything we can to make sure all of our sources are using best practices for all animal husbandry. And if there are changes that can be made, we actively assist in making those knowing that at 2-8%, there is little incentive for these farmers and abattoirs to implement changes themselves.

The two most important issues we face is the sourcing of down coming from birds that have been force fed for Foie Gras or live plucked.

Force feeding

In parts of the world, farmers engage in a practice of force feeding duck and goose to enlarge their livers for the foie gras industry. Since a large majority of duck in Europe are raised for foie gras, this issue probably represents the biggest volume potential.

For years, ALLIED has rarely sourced any duck down from Europe for this reason. It is a relatively cheap and easy implementation for farms to switch production and there are issues within countries where this is legal for farms to engage in parallel production. The risk is high in these regions so we have chosen to source around the issue.

Live plucking

Live plucking is an abhorrent practice where older birds that would molt naturally have their down systematically ripped from their chests. While this practice is arguably the more sinister of the issues, it is also a very small percentage of the global supply at risk for this treatment – regardless of the misinformation perpetuated by the animal welfare groups.

Live plucking occurs where birds live long enough to seasonally remove the down. These birds will regrow the the down and thus remain at risk for further plucking the following season. The only place this can occur is within the parent farms where birds can live several years for the sole purpose of laying the eggs that go to market and raising farms for production of meat. In the industrial supply chain, birds go to the abattoir at between 8-11 weeks so there is no possibility of this practice to occur outside of these parent farms.

This practice can also only occur with White Geese. Other species can not handle this treatment and will die. And since the bird is far more valuable as a parent goose, killing the bird this way is counter productive. The practice also only applies to the industrial supply chain which accounts for only 50% of the global supply. The remaining 50% comes from a rural small farm supply chain where there is generally very little to no animal welfare risk at all.

ALLIED is committed to addressing two animal welfare issues in the poultry industry: live plucking and force feeding.


When considering the fraction of a fraction of the global supply chain, the birds at risk for this treatment are a very small single digit percentage. It in no way is a potential risk for 98% of the down used.

One can also easily identify the quality of the material as a risk indicator. Any grey goose or duck material of any fill power or any white goose under around 900 fill power is not at risk of coming from live plucked birds. It is only the high fill power white goose down that can even be considered at risk.

ALLIED works closely with all of our farms and regularly audit our supply chains ourselves on top of the certifications. We do work with parent farms and work with them financially to ensure that they are not tempted to engage in the practice. Allied is also working on a dated dna marker we can apply to the down on the birds to ensure traceability. We also work to certify all possible parent farms that we know are producing eggs for the raising farms we work with.

These were the two big issues at hand ,and those that we still deal with today, that led ALLIED to work with our partner, The North Face and Control Union to build the Responsible Down Standard. ALLIED continues to fight for increasing transparency globally and push best practices for all animal husbandry forward.

animal welfare farms china
[ animal-welfare-farms-china ]

Working with an animal by-product, it has always been important to ALLIED that the welfare of all birds throughout the supply chains used were being raised according to best practices of animal husbandry to ensure that all ALLIED down was ethically and responsibly sourced.

Long before any real discussion of animal welfare within the down supply chain, ALLIED was auditing supply chains with third party auditing bodies and implementing the strongest and most transparent traceability initiatives in the industry. And even when many down suppliers continue to supply “certified” down alongside that which comes from force fed birds, ALLIED made the commitment to not source from these supply chains at all and to ensure all birds within the ALLIED supply chain were treated in accordance with Brambell’s five freedoms of animal welfare.

Freedom from

Hunger and Thirst
Pain, Injury or Disease
Fear and Distress

Freedom to

Express Normal Behavior

We face very real challenges in parts of the supply chain with force feeding for the Foie Gras industry and live-plucking practices that can exist on the parent farms. This is why, even though ALLIED had been doing independent robust audits, we worked with The North Face and Control Union to help develop the Responsible Down Standard; gifted to Textile Exchange to be used by the industry as a whole upon completion in 2014.

ALLIED continues to lead the industry by certifying 100% of our supply chain and working with many large brands and international fashion houses to build even more robust supply chain certifications and initiatives.

Responsible Down Standard logo

In 2013, ALLIED set out with The North Face and Control Union to build a much-needed industry-wide standard. With as much auditing that was already being conducted throughout the ALLIED supply chain, there still was not a singular industry standard with the appropriate stakeholders from which to audit against.

The RDS has the largest brands and global animal welfare groups as important contributing stakeholders and certifies that all birds come from farms that abide by the five freedoms of animal welfare throughout all aspects of their lives – including travel. The RDS also requires a level of traceability for those certified brands and is built upon the content claim standard. That ensures that any RDS labeled product has been audited and certified throughout the entire supply chain – from farms through manufacturing.



In order to ensure that best practices from a sourcing and animal welfare perspective continue to move forward, ALLIED regularly works with Fier Voten (Four Paws) to understand some of the issues they see in the industry and how we can develop a strategy to rectify on an industry-wide level.

We never simply rely on any standard, we make sure we audit all supply chains ourselves and relationships like this are invaluable to not only make sure best practices are being followed, but also constantly reconsidered to best protect the welfare of these animals.

“ALLIED has shown true leadership and has proven that regardless of a suppliers’ size, if they want to be cruelty-free they can. We call on all suppliers to follow ALLIED’s example and fully exclude down feathers from force-fed or live-plucked animals from their supply.

FOUR PAWS has called for prohibiting parallel production at the supplier level since the inception of those standards. We applaud ALLIED Feather and Down for being the first major processor to concur and understand the importance of such a measure a measure.”

– Melanie Lary, Four Paws