The Responsible Down Standard (RDS) – a certification program for down suppliers – attempts to assure consumers that the birds are treated in a “responsible” way, but as this PETA Asia undercover video footage shows, these “standards” are failing to protect birds.
PETA Asia investigated RDS–certified goose farms in Russia – which export down to countries around the world – revealing that geese were beheaded with a dull axe while they were fully conscious.
Conscious Geese Beheaded – Birds Continue to Move While Bleeding Out
PETA Asia visited eight farms in Russia, including in the Novosibirsk region. Although the RDS stipulates that “waterfowl shall be stunned then killed before they can regain consciousness”, geese at one farm didn’t receive any pain relief and were not stunned before their necks were stretched across a stump and repeatedly hacked at with an axe. A worker is heard laughing after decapitating a goose with five blows and tossing the body into the snow. Another goose shrieks in terror while being struck seven times. Birds’ wings and feet can be seen twitching for more than five minutes afterwards.
According to Dr Heather Rally, a PETA entity veterinarian who reviewed the footage, “[The geese] undoubtedly suffered tremendous pain while being suspended and restrained by the wings and having their necks mutilated with several blows from an axe that apparently was dull.”
RDS Lacks Transparency – Audits Fail to Protect Birds
PETA Asia’s investigators were taken to the farm where the slaughter was documented by a representative of a Russian company that produces up to 19,900 kilograms of down every month. The investigators were told that down bought from the Novosibirsk region is RDS–certified. This was news to the farmer, who, despite claims from the company representative, said her farm is not certified. However, because her farm falls within the certified region, the company representative confirmed that the down from the geese seen in this footage would still be sold as RDS–certified.
The RDS claims to follow the production of down from “farm to product”, but the representative said auditors don’t ask farmers how the geese are raised. If the auditors are locals, “They don’t even have to ask,” he said. “They know how the birds are kept.” The RDS certification procedures allow entire “farm areas” to be certified by auditing just a sample of a given area. That means that RDS administrators may not know what’s taking place on most farms when certifying entire regions.
The Down Industry Has a History of Abuse
This is not the first time PETA US has exposed the down industry’s cruelty. In 2012, PETA US released footage of workers tearing out live geese’s feathers, a process known as “live plucking”. In the years that followed, companies faced a loss of confidence by consumers, so they came up with international standards claiming to ensure “responsible”, “non live-plucked” down.
But when PETA US and PETA Asia went inside farms connected to these certified and “responsible” companies, they uncovered shocking cruelty that cast significant doubt on down standards. Investigators spoke with suppliers to these so-called “responsible” and “non live-pluck” companies, and they admitted to buying and selling live-plucked down. One buyer even bragged about misleading customers, and an industry representative remarked, “We advertised that it’s all plucked after slaughter – nobody dares to buy it if you say it’s live-plucked.” Their solution? Mislabel their live-plucked down as “non live-plucked” so that people will buy it.
You Can Help Prevent Animals From Suffering for Fashion
Every bit of animal-derived material, no matter how small, represents intense suffering. Every fur coat, leather shoe, or snakeskin wallet should be left on the store shelf, because animals’ skin belongs to them.