I know I said I was going to update the last thread, but time got away from me and then I sort of forgot. I'll try to make up for it this go around. Sorry, no pictures this time around, either. I tried to take some pictures while doing this but the geese were camera shy and my hand wasn't steady enough to get a clear shot. I can get pictures of the down in bags if anyone is curious to see that. Before ANYONE begins an argument about whether or not live harvesting down from a goose is inhumane, please remember that this is meant to be informative - not torn apart. Now that I've officially done this to a few dozen geese I can safely say that the geese were more annoyed at being held in one spot than in having their down taken. I also didn't have any cases of poor, shaken geese suffering from PTSD, aggression or panic attacks whenever I came close. Honestly, sheep probably have a harder time of it than geese when it comes to being nudified. No goose was harmed in the making of this tutorial. Seriously. (But at one point my foot fell asleep.) With that out of the way, some quick information about live harvesting: geese happily shed all of their feathers when they molt. Shedding feathers is akin to what happens when a white cat rubs up against black pants. The feathers and down drop off naturally while the rest are preened out. When you are harvesting down you're not "ripping the hair" bleeding out of the poor thing - you're giving a little tug and if it stays put you're moving on. It'll be obvious whether or not you can actually harvest at the time you pick. If nothing comes out with a tug then wait and try again later. And now the tutorial thingie. I have two groups of geese that are grooving around in one large flock. At the time I had a large flock of not-at-all-handled American Buffs and a flock of Pilgrims I had hand raised. Before I began harvesting I picked up and handled the geese a few times a week to get them accustomed to having their wings moved around, being on their back, and randomly prodded. The Buffs suffered through the indignity and got to the point to where they would grudgingly sit still and wait for me to finish. The Pilgrims were a complete success. While being poked and prodded, I kept a bunch of treats on hand that the American Buffs snubbed. But after the Pilgrims became used to being handled they gorged themselves on goodies. When I was finally ready to harvest I picked an American Buff to begin with, reasoning that if I screwed something up I'd rather annoy an aloof goose rather than a friendly one. I sat down on the grass, held the goose with his back and head against me and his abdomen between my legs and painstakingly spent a ton of time trying to collect some down without getting all of the small feathers in the way. It took forever and all I got was a handful of guard feathers with some bits of down that mostly floated away before it made it to the bag. Half an hour later an annoyed goose was let up and put back in the pasture. I moved on to the second goose, again picking an American Buff who forgot all of his manners and flapped wildly while I tried to calm him down. I have no idea how, but by chance I got my hand completely under his wing and, not wanting to let go, I just sort of held him that way while trying to get him calm. When he was finally mellow I found out that there is absolutely nothing under a goose's wing but down. It's a small patch, but it's still actual down that you don't have to pick out through the feathers. I managed to collect half an ounce of down beneath each wing before releasing him. It took me no more than ten minutes once he was quiet. After that I didn't bother collecting any down from anywhere else. All of the good quality down is hidden beneath the wing, meaning that you can harvest it without worrying about visible bald patches, plus the wings still cover the harvested area to help keep them warm. By the time I got to my Pilgrims I had a system down and could finish up in 10-15 minutes. The Pilgrims were more willing to sit still since they were too busy eating their goodies to be bothered about what I was doing. In the end it took me all day, but I harvested quite a bit of down and have plenty of bags I'm now planning on selling. Any goose that was over a year old yielded about an ounce of down just from under their wings. An ounce is enough to fill up a quart sized ziplock bag - it's extremely lightweight. Geese under a year old only yielded about half an ounce total. From what I've read, you want to harvest from older geese, anyway, since the quality of down is better. The handling and treats were a lifesaver. The American Buffs are still calm and aloof and my Pilgrims are still nice and friendly. I have a couple of Pilgrims that crawl into your lap and look around for goodies. The whole experience was painless and didn't seem traumatizing at all. The geese I released didn't freak out and blast warnings so his companions could run for the hills, I didn't get bit and there were only a couple of times when a goose freaked out and tried to flap his way free halfway through the process (usually when I was turning them around to collect under the other wing). Next year I plan on doing this again. Most of the down collected is going toward making a goose down comforter for Christmas and next year we'll probably make a matching pillow. Goose down is extremely under-utilized and even if you don't have enough geese to make something huge, you can at least restuff old pillows and jackets, make animal dolls and even line nestboxes if you have rabbits who are too modest to pluck out too much of their own fur to line a nest.