Harvesting Down from a Live Goose

Discussion in 'Geese' started by Omniskies, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. Omniskies

    Omniskies Songster

    Mar 7, 2008
    I decided to make this a new thread for anyone who did a search on the topic in the future.

    Much to the dismay of my American Buff flock, I decided to try and live harvest. We have a lot of feathers on the ground, but we also have a ton of birds free ranging, so I wasn't sure who had decided to moult and who was refusing to give up their summer coat.

    To start with, I came to the conclusion that I'd live pluck after letting everyone loose. So I had to spend quite a bit of time convincing the geese that it was time for them to go back into their pen so I could select a couple.

    For the record, I bought my American Buff flock as adults. They're already stand-offish and less tolerant of strange things. I decided to start with them since I figured if I did _anything_ they didn't like they'd be more inclined to let me know. My Pilgrims are so laid back that I was afraid they might shrug off any discomfort.

    With that out of the way, here's how the plucking process went:

    I managed to convince a half dozen geese that they needed to go inside the pen. Once I got in there I grabbed one and held him still for a few moments before lifting him up and cradling him firmly on his back. Since I didn't think this through - at all - I had to try and harvest standing up (I was still in my slacks for work, too. I really didn't plan ahead).

    Once he was cradled he squirmed a bit, then laid there in my arms waiting to see what would happen. I tried plucking a few feathers that didn't come out easily, so I stopped, set him down and moved on to the next one. I had the same results until I got to lucky number three.

    The third goose laid cradled in my arm and flinched once. I think I may have been trying to pluck the other two incorrectly since I had no problem with harvesting from this one.

    For the third goose I didn't start with the feathers - I reached beneath them and plucked the down right out. Once I had a small hole there I could work with the feathers and the down together. I used my index finger and thumb to pull out small tufts at a time. When a tuft didn't come out easily I skipped it and moved on.

    In the end I got two fistfulls of feathers and down without leaving much of a mark on the goose. When I put him back down he bolted over to his companions, waggled his tail and looked at me as if I was out of my mind. You couldn't see anything plucked from my angle.

    I let them out and they promptly rejoined the flock. Then I went over and dumped the water containers to refill with nice cold water. The flock came over - including the three victims - and chatted with one another about the weather over a nice jaunt in the pools.

    Honestly, I doubt the flinch was anything more painful than brushing out a quick tangle in your hair. He seemed more surprised than pained, didn't thrash around in my arm, and when I saw him later on in the yard he didn't hiss, run away or sound an alarm.

    I'm going to wait another week then try to harvest again. I did notice that the belly feathers were extremely prickly when squeezed in my fist (yeah...I didn't even remember to bring a bag with me). I'm not sure how noticable that would be in a thin pillow. The pillows we made have a thick covering.

    I didn't get pictures this go around. If you have questions let me know and I'll try to answer them.
  2. Dinos_rock

    Dinos_rock Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    I want to try this if I get geese. [​IMG]
  3. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Now I wish I had a goose to comb! I think you were just supposed to get the downy hair-like growth and not much feathers. Did they come out anyway when you tried for the downy stuff? Is there any way to avoid getting stiff feathers in the mix? Do it again! Do it again!!! This is so cool to learn about! [​IMG]
  4. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Songster

    Jan 25, 2008
    That's wonderful, Omni. Next week, when you try again, maybe you can think it through a little more. Maybe have a chair or even a bucket or two for you to sit on. LOL As well as, not letting the geese out first! You also need a helper to at least snap some pictures or even a video would be wonderful, I tried to find one with live down-harvesting and couldn't. [​IMG]

    Don't worry you are not the only one, I let all my chickens out today and then realized I needed to tag and photograph my six Sumatra, which a quick, stubborn little buggers when permitted to "go out".

    This will definately be something I look into when I get geese. I know I won't make a profit, but even at $16 a year per goose that is still offsetting the feedbill, along with selling eggs. Besides, I don't know if I would sell the down products or horde them for myself. LOL

  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Well, anymore attempts at down snatching? Would love to see a pic of you doing it, Omni!
  6. Omniskies

    Omniskies Songster

    Mar 7, 2008
    None yet. I'm going to wait a week and give it another shot. This week temperatures became absolutely awful. The geese look hot even when they're playing in water. I'm guessing that after a week of this their bodies will be firmly opposed to this whold clad thing and will moult off everything possible.

    After that I get to retag my Buff flock. I still don't know which ones are males and which are females. Having the down removed will make it easier to check [​IMG]

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