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Buyer Guide: Natural Bedding - Feather & Down

Natural feather and down bedding is used across the planet and has been a popular choice for overnight insulation for thousands of years. Thankfully, as technology has blossomed, we no longer cover ourselves in hides and feathers and instead can nestle under sumptuous, cotton-clad bedding. Here at Homescapes, we use feathers, down and special combinations of the two in our cushions, pillows, duvets and mattress toppers to ensure that you experience a cosy slumber and a quality, long lasting product.

The main types of natural feather bedding come from either geese or ducks. We offer both goose and duck feather and down bedding, so whatever your preference, you can find the thick, fluffy duvet for you.

Which Birds?

Goose and Duck. There are two types of geese and duck, white and grey. Qualitatively, there is not much difference in the type of feathers (down) that these birds produce, but we tend to use mostly white duck and goose for their feathers and down. We prefer to keep things natural and do not bleach our feathers, so if you find a grey feather in with your white pillow, don’t worry; it is the same as finding a freckle on your skin.

China is the largest consumer and producer of duck and goose and hence the largest source of feathers too. However there is some generation in Europe too. Hungary and Poland are the main European sources of feather and down. Please note that the feather cleaning industry is much more evolved in China, being the largest source and the cleaning plants that we use is one of the most advanced in the world producing the best cleaning and grading of the feathers and down.

Where do our feathers and down come from?

It is very important to us that the feather and down material that we use is never plucked from live birds. All of the feathers and down used in our bedding are byproducts of the food industry, so only the feathers of deceased fowl are used.

The majority of our feathers and down are sourced from China, where goose and duck are incredibly popular choices for food consumption, hence creating a huge source of feathers. This huge demand enables the feather industry in China to be the most advanced in the world, producing the best cleaning and grading techniques for your feather bedding.

After the birds have been plucked, the feather and down material is treated in accordance to European and JIS (Japan) standards to ensure that it is fully cleaned. Each lot of clean feathers is then individually certified by the veterinary authorities to have been treated to the required standards before it comes to us, ready to be put into comfy pillows!

The factory that cleans and prepares our feathers also supplies to some of the best known brands (including top department stores) so we can guarantee that they have been prepared to our (and your!) high standards of quality and hygiene.

What is the difference between feathers and down?

Feathers Feathers come from the tougher outer feathers of birds, so are thick and durable. They have a shaft running through the entire feather, surrounded by soft, flexible barbs that make up the “fluffy” outer part of the feather. Where the barbs end, the uncovered stalk becomes a quill. These outer feathers are perfect for creating a thick, warm duvet that wraps around you while helping to keep your body at its ideal temperature and allow excess moisture to evaporate out.

We only use the very best short, small and uncurled feathers as these are less likely to break and keep your duvet lofty and light.

Down Down is found under the neck and softer areas of the bird, and is the best known natural insulator. Down clusters are delicate, flexible and have an almost nonexistent quill, meaning that they are softer, lighter and fluffier. This naturally spherical shape means that they trap heat and will not break easily, so your duvet will stay plump use after use. High levels of down increase the fill power of the bedding filling, so the higher the percentage of down, the lighter and fluffier the bedding.

As down is so much lighter than feathers, less down is needed to provide the same amount of warmth as duck feathers do, meaning that a duvet or pillow will be weigh less. A lot of our bedding utilises both feather and down to get the perfect blend of enveloping cosiness and fluffy warmth.

Buyer Beware: Down is much more expensive than feathers, if a duvet claims to be having a high down content but is also priced very cheaply, the first question the buyer should ask is the authenticity of the claim of a high down content. We have seen some very unscrupulous sellers following such practices.

What are curled feathers?

As fantastic as it may sound, curled feathers are large feathers which are mechanically curled and then filled in the pillows and cushions. As a result, the quill shafts get broken and the dust collects within the pillow, this makes the pillow heavy and unhealthy. This is the reason we at Homescapes only use small feathers for our pillows and not the curled feathers.

Is goose better than duck?

The differences between duck and goose feathers and down are largely debated, with some people swearing by goose feather and others claiming that there is very little difference. The main theoretical difference between goose and duck fillings is that, as geese are so much larger than ducks, the feathers and down that come from them are larger, and therefore provide better insulation and are more durable.

Like all theories, there are always a few anomalies that hold it back from becoming fact. For example, some of the best feathers in the world come from grey ducks of a certain age, despite general appreciation being for geese over duck and white over grey feathers. Much like wine, a certain year and area’s crop (or generation of bird) could create significantly better produce than expected. Since we cannot guarantee what sort of feathers and down will be produced, we practice consistent selection of feather and down material, so that our bedding always meets our high standards.

Not a fan of natural fillings? Read our Synthetic Bedding Guide.

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