Your Dumb Feather Extensions Are Causing A Rooster Shortage

If you needed any more reasons to avoid wearing feather extensions in your hair after viewing this anti-feh-stension gallery, here is one: over 1,500 roosters are killed for their feathers each week on one single farm in Colorado (multiply this times a handful of rooster farms in the country), and they still can’t keep up with the demand for these ludicrous accessories. Furthermore, this is causing an amusing shortage of feathers in the industry in which they’re traditionally used, namely fly fishing.

Via The Seattle Times:

At Whiting Farms Inc., in western Colorado, one of the world’s largest producers of fly tying feathers, the roosters live about a year while their saddle feathers — the ones on the bird’s backside and the most popular for hair extensions — grow as long as possible. Then the animal is euthanized.

As hair extensions, the feathers can be brushed, blow dried, straightened and curled once they are snapped into place. Most salons sell the feather strands for $5 to $10 a piece. The trend has become so popular a company online even sells feather extensions for dogs.

The craze has also left hairstylists scrambling to find rooster saddle feathers, as fly shops hold onto a select few for their regular customers. The businesses will now ask if the feathers are for hairdressing, said Shelley Ambroz, who owns MiraBella Salon and Spa in Boise.

“If you go in and you’re a woman, they won’t sell to you,” said Ambroz, who started to eye her husband’s fly-fishing gear after stores ran out.

So essentially, feather extensions are tantamount to fur: these animals are raised solely so we can kill them and wear their butt feathers in our hair. “Euthanasia” is also a ridiculous term to use to describe the killing of a healthy animal that would otherwise live several years longer, but I digress.

I obviously have no sympathy for the fly fishers, who are only going to use the feathers to kill more critters. (I also find it annoying that the fishing store guys assume all women are trying to buy them for their hair, but that’s an issue for another day.) But if anyone out there is either an ethical vegetarian/vegan, or a meat-eater who thinks it’s okay to kill animals for food but not fashion (nobody eats the roosters), you will probably want to steer clear of this trend.

Unless, of course, you buy them from an ethical seller. I am in no way endorsing feh-stensions by posting this list, but I know some of you probably still want them, and I don’t want more roosters to die than are dying already. Here are some sites where you can purchase extensions (and other things!) made from butt feathers that have dropped off of birds naturally, without any killing involved:

The Friendly Feather Shop

The Happy Rooster

Peacock Hill Cruelty Free Feathers

Namaste Creations

Veggywood (cruelty free earrings)


Share This Post:
    • Lex

      Thanks, good article! Why isn’t this one of The Gloss’s featured pieces?

    • Frankie

      Yes people eat roosters all the time.

      This trend is going to kill millions of roosters before it fizzles out. I just don’t understand why this company wont use the meat and feathers. What a waste.

      (current chicken keeper)

    • Alex Walker

      Yes, roosters are being killed for feathers. For accessories. But instead of only getting pissed at the fashion industry about the problem, maybe also get mad at the fishermen who do fly fishing. It will still use the feathers. I think that people are just getting mad about it for no reason. It is an animal it will die eventually. Do I think that the whole rooster should be wasted? No. But it is the persons choice who is selling the feathers whether to waste the meat or not. Also instead of getting mad at only the fashion industry get mad at the ‘farmers/keepers’ who are letting their roosters be used for that.

      • ginny

        fly fishermen are responsible for more conservation and saving of different species than any animal group. go look up research on Trout Unlimited for example. look up all the watersheds the organization has saved and improved, all the animal species that now flourish as a result of “fly fishermen”.

        not to mention the fact that 99% or more of all flyfishermen use barbless hooks and release their catch back into the water unharmed.

        now PETA and other clown group members will never do that kind of research because it will shoot a hole in the bottom of their boat. while those with a sane mind who do the research and learn, might even consider joining trout or other conservation groups who rather than jumping up on a political soapbox, actually get out there and get their hands dirty and DO something about it.

    • Cora

      Outraged? Do you own a leather belt, eat jello, or wear lipstick? If so, you shouldn’t have a problem with this!
      The rest of the rooster is not wasted; all of it will be used for something – including food.

    • Tammy

      All in the name of fashion? People are idiots.

    • Jess

      Ooo, you should add to your list of ethical sellers. Erica collects feathers that have NATURALLY shed from her backyard birds. She is the most ethically, kind farmer I have ever known. I have never seen so many happy birds that want to be held and loved on!

    • Eric

      At what point will people stop treating animals as if they are superior to humans. They aren’t and never will be.

      I was doing feather extensions when the craze first took off. Made a lot of money from those feathery animala.d. Don’t regret it one bit. I don’t do them any longer due to supply and demand.

      Put your energy into something that matters. Like issues affecting human beings.

      • Lex1111

        You are one heartless, cruel, SOB…Karma will come back and bite you in the ass one day. You know that, right? Something more important? So the killing of an innocent aminal for their stupid feathers and fur is not important? Well guess what, you little bitch; Animals do have a soul..and they are able to FEEL..BOTH EMOTIONS AND PHYSICAL PAIN..Something you obviously have no F*in clue about. No, no one can stop the meat industry. But when it comes to harvesting animals ONLY for a fashion trend and no other reason, that’s where it gets messed up..I hope you rot in hell. Have a nice day.

        Those of us with a heart.

      • Lynn

        While I’m not going to go off like Lex, I do have to say that is a bit out of line. Animals deserve more credit then that. They have things figured out better then what we humans do. At least they only do what they NEED to to survive in this world, humans do what it is they WANT to survive. Idiots walking around killing others over stupid shit that isn’t even worth the time and energy. Least when an animal kills its because they are threatened and/or need the food to survive.

    • Lynn

      Have you gone around personally asked every place that sells the feathers where they got them from, then go to that place and see how it is they obtain the feathers? Seriously come on there has to be places that are selling the feathers from natural deaths, natural shedding, killing them and using the meat along with feathers, etc. If you haven’t gone out to EVERY place to see how it is they do business and are just going off ONE farm then you really suck at your research. And to be honest there is way too much “I” in this for me to even care what it is your trying to get across to everyone because it just seems like a rant on what you think and feel about things, so really this is more like a blog then an article.

    • Alert KBN

      IMO, killing an animal to satisfy your vanity is an immoral act.

    • Dan

      This article is completely absurd. There are 6 farms in the world that have these type of feathers, and all their chickens are already being processed for meat/eggs. They are in no way bread just for their feathers, and will be killed for their meat regardless of any feather trend in the fashion world. 1500 chickens a week? There is hardly even 1500 saddles of these feathers on the market right now. Horrible journalism. I agree with the point you’re trying to make author, but you completely failed in representing factual information to support your claim.

      • whirledpeasplease

        Agreed, the author didn’t fact-check before posting (the feathers used are saddle feathers, from the back and neck of the rooster; and there are a lot more than a “handful” of poultry operations that breed and raise roosters solely for their feathers).

        But the roosters who are culled for their feathers are different types from the roosters processed for meat. Also, the culling process is quite different depending on the end product. You get either nice feathers (from roosters bred for looks) or tasty meat (from some type of cornish cross, usually)

        There isn’t an efficient/economical way to produce all the pretty saddle feathers women want to wear in their hair without killing the rooster. The farmer would have to wait until the rooster goes through a natural molt in autumn and collect the feathers one by one as they fall out on their own. The only way you are going to find these type of feathers is to make friends with someone who keeps a backyard flock. (I have bags of molted feathers from chickens and turkeys I give to friends who craft with them.)

    • Dr.Frankenstein

      Kill the damn birds. Who cares.

      • dawn

        I don’t care either as long as I am not killing them…!! Oh and I LOVE my feathers they’re awesome!

    • Argh Matey

      Another bout of silliness from the left. Where is all the outcry of Mexicans who participate in illegal cock fighting in the US because it is a matter of culture in Mexico, with a cock fighting arena in every larger city in Mexico? I hear crickets from the left!

      And where is the outcry against KFC? How many millions of chickens are kept in filthy disgusting pens only to be slaughtered so millions of people can eat their extra crispy and McNuggets? Hmmm? CRICKET SOUND FROM THE LEFT!

      • dawn

        Agree 100%…flyfisherman have used these feathers for 70 years without a peep from anyone and NOW that we’re making BIG money we hear all sorts of crap…..PLEASE enough!!!

    • farmerlaura

      Honestly it is a bit of a waste to raise an animal only for some feathers. However at least they have to slaughter first. They used to pluck while alive. Still think there would be a use for the roosters. we took our roosters to a wild cat rescue after we slaughtered them. Should be some use other than feathers.
      We do not eat KFC or McNuggets. too much sawdust and soy much less the conditions the birds are raised. Our chicken taste way better!

    • Sarah

      Use the wing feathers of the slaughtered hens

    • Joan

      I’m glad to see this article. I came across it because I was annoyed with seeing those feathers in everyone’s hair and thought it has to be causing some sort of cruelty problem. And of course not surprisingly, when I ask these fashionistas if they were aware the feathers were cruelty free or where they came from, they were clueless. Just for the record, for those who say you can just eat the rooster after its plucked, NO YOU CANNOT EAT IT. Those are different roosters. So you are killing innocent roosters just to wear its feather in your hair.

    • Birdie

      Its okay to use them to fly fish? Were using them to do hair, big bucks!!!

    • Iris

      It’s pretty ridiculous of you to say that fly-fisherman are only “going to use the feathers to kill more critters”. The above poster, Ginny, is absolutely right. Most fly-fisherman use barbless hooks and take great care to revive their catch, immediately release young fish, and refuse to fish during spawning when the population is vulnerable.

      Fly fisherman are responsible for unending conservation and restoration projects. They fight to save native populations and eliminate pest species. They coordinate stream restorations. They fight against habitat destruction through dams or overdevelopment. They are stewards of the environment and since fly-fishing requires such intimate knowledge of the ecosystem, you might even say they are part-time entymologists/biologists. More fish have been saved by Trout Unlimited than PETA could even dream about.

      There is no reason to include fly-fisherman in your rant. The feathers used for fly tying are a tiny fraction of what is produced for idiotic women who want to be trendy. If you insist on wearing feathers, buy directly from the maker, like on Etsy, so you can be sure the feathers are sustainably sourced or wild collected.

    • Faye

      I didn’t go through the many, many comments, but after posting this on fb, got quite a lot of buzz, so I did some research. If somebody already posted this, skip please ;)
      If not, here it is folks, this is testimony from Whiting Farms Inc, the leading World supplier of these feather. They sell to 36 Countries and 48 States. The testimony is how they practice, every detail, (I did NOT edit, you can google it) -

      “The facts in this case are not disputed. Thomas Whiting is the president and owner of Whiting Farms, Inc. Whiting Farms breeds and raises chickens for their feathers, which are removed in pelts, packaged, and sold to a distributor for eventual use in fly-tying. All of the poultry production takes place on four ranches owned or leased by Whiting Farms, Aplt. Br. at 7, and Whiting Farms only processes chickens raised on its own farms, Aplee. Br. at 3. In 2000, Whiting Farms processed 120,000-125,000 chickens. Id. at 4.
      2 Whiting Farms breeds the chickens, pedigrees the eggs, hatches them, broods the chickens, and raises them for approximately one year, after which the chickens are processed for their feathers. Aplt. Br. at 6. Once the chickens have reached approximately fifty weeks old, they are euthanized, left to cool overnight, and processed. Skinners first cut off the necks and heads of the chickens, which are then washed and dried. Fifteen to twenty percent of the pelts are dyed at this stage, before the necks are skinned. After washing and spinning, the necks are skinned by removing the skin and attached feathers (known as a “cape”). The capes are placed on cardboard sheets and placed in a room that is between seventy-five and eighty degrees to cure for two weeks. Id. at 9-10.
      3 While the heads and necks are washed and dried, the skinners skin the back of the bird, known as the “saddle.” The saddles are also placed on cardboard by “putter-uppers.” The saddles are cured for one to two weeks in a heated room prior to washing, and overall they are cured between three and four months. The saddles are cured in a hotter room for a longer period due to the higher overall fat content. Id. at 10-11.
      4 After curing, the saddles are trimmed by “trimmers” to remove peripheral skin. The capes are also trimmed into a rounder shape and excess feathers are removed. Both capes and saddles are graded and either packaged individually or placed in bulk storage. Aplt. Br. at 11. The pelts, also called “hackle,” have an almost indefinite shelf life when stored properly. Whiting Farms produces hackle year round, with some decrease in production during the late summer and early fall.”

      I did not see anywhere that they used the remains for anything else in my research. Their website says they also sell feathers for pet toys and crafts/costumes. The actual lawsuit is listed below. It was a overtime wage lawsuit, but the information of how production is carried out is very insightful.

      360 F.3d 1180 Eladio RODRIGUEZ, individually; Martin Gomez, individually, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. WHITING FARMS, INC.; Thomas Whiting, individually, Defendants-Appellees. No. 02-1483.
      United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit.

    • Lizz

      What’s the difference between this and leather? I don’t see you complaining about people skinning the hide off a cow’s ass and wearing it? So why be offended by a little less crowing? What about shark finning for soup? It’s gotten way out of hand. Stop trying to be some hipster animal rights activist. If you don’t give a crap about other animals don’t pull some bullshit whining about roosters.

      • Jamie Peck

        Hi Lizz. I am actually a vegan and against all of those other things you just mentioned as well. I boycott the use of animal products in my daily life and encourage others to do the same. I’m so glad you think I’m hip, though!

    • Patricia

      All of this fighting with each other does nothing for the many animals all over the world who need our attention, lets stay focused and direct our anger into trying to make a difference one difference at a time. If not then they who are against us have won.

    • Doc

      The feather trend is a cruel one, unless you can take the animals out of the equation. Doctored Locks has done just that! Synthetic and Human hair faux feathers! Get the same great look, only VEGAN!

    • Shin

      Near moulting time, you can just pluck them out. Judging by the sound it makes, It hurts like a bitch but it isn’t killing them so no harm done, right?