Making a Down Comforter

Country Parson

9 Years
Oct 1, 2010
Bellefontaine, OH
We currently have 12 geese (6 pilgrims, 6 embdens), all fully grown. We plan on butchering out all the embdens and half the pilgrims, and will save all the down during the butchering process. But here is the question: Any clue how many geese (assuming adult size) are needed to get enough down to make a queen size comforter?
It depends on the thickness of the comforter.

I weighed the down from two of my geese, there was about 90 grams (app. 3 oz.) My current pillow (60x60 cm.) has 425 g. of down in it and my comforter (200x200 cm.) 1085 g. So it's gonna take a looong time for me to fill a comforter! Currently, the ambition is a pillow...
Yeah, it's going to take a LOT of geese to fill a comforter.

How do you harvest the down. I'm not a simple person. I know the goose is plucked, but do you scald the bird for easy plucking. Is it dry plucked. Do you do anything to clean the feathers before snuggling your head down on what I would imagine are at least dusty dirty feathers or at best scalded feathers that smell like wet goose. I plan on butchering several Muscovy ducks pretty soon. So I might be interested in saving the down. But have no idea how
I scalded the birds as usual and removed the feathers. Those I didn't save. Then I picked the down and put it in a cotton bag. They were not wet, just a little damp here and there. I left the down bag in a heated room for about a week, shaking it once in a while to be sure all dampness was gone before I put the down in a sealed plastic vacuum bag (the kind you suck the air out of with a vacuumer).

I plan on taking the down to a feather cleaner once I have enough and have them make the pillow. I can't sow, and making pillows and comforters takes special skills and materials that I don't have. Here in Denmark we have several businesses who clean feathers and make bedware.

I found this company in Canada:
Of course it is possible to harvest down without killing the goose or duck. You can Lightly dry pluck several times during the warm part of the year. Just before they molt and when the temperature starts to warm up are the most productive times. Also if you keep an eye on your birds and their nests you should observe the females plucking themselves in the brooding areaof their breast and lining their nest with it. Steal it fast and often so it does not become soiled and smelly like it will once she starts actually seting on the nest. my birds usually started this plucking 36 hours or less before they would brood and to me was the one dependable sigh that they were going to quit messing around and actually go broody. Good luck it takes a lot of down and fine feathers to make anything but the down from fully mature birds is superior to the tender young birds for the table.
chickensducks&agoose :

I think with 12 geese it'd be MUCH warmer to just duct (duck?) tape them all together in a square and sleep under THAT.

This is something I've been curious about. According to Goose Girl's numbers it will take 24 geese to make a comforter. That's not too bad.
UPDATE: I harvested 8 adult geese (saving 4 of the pilgrim's for breeding stock). By harvesting down only (none of the fine feathers) they almost filled a 55 gallon trash can. I didn't realize I could also use the fine feathers until I was almost done with harvesting.

All in all, it is certainly more than enough for some pillows and even a small throw blanket. We will probably save it until next year and use it for a fuller size comforter. I had heard some reports online that it takes 75 geese to make a queen size comforter. I can at least now attest to the inaccuracy of that rumor! LOL From what I'm seeing with these 8, looks like 24ish geese would be about right.

As for live plucking, I have to admit I tried it on the four remaining geese but didn't have the heart to go through with it. Perhaps it was the fact I just slaughtered 8 of their friends/family and felt guilt. Also, winter is coming on soon so it seems inadvisable. Plus I haven't made up my mind on the cruelty issue (not saying it is cruel, but I want to be sure about it before I would do it). But for those new to geese who want to try it, under their wings is the best place. It is pure down with no outer feathers to mess with.

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