The Best Goose Down - how is it made?
Polish Goose Down is highly appreciated on markets around the globe. It gained its strong reputation thanks to the highest quality parameters, which guarantee durability and comfortable use of bedding and clothing products. It provides excellent thermal insulation and allows excess moisture to pass through. When properly processed, it is odourless, dust-free and has a snow-white colour. Polish Goose Down, in comparison with duck down, achieves particularly high parameters. This is evidenced by the following arguments.
1. Improved genotype
Works carried out in Poland on the development of an ideal species of geese have contributed to the creation of the species of Biała Kołudzka (White Kołuda) goose. The creator of its genotype is the Research Farm in Kołuda Wielka - National Research Institute of Animal Production. This facility had been perfecting the genotype for nearly 60 years, by selecting and crossing geese with the best and most desirable quality features, and in this way, the species, which is the pride of the Polish Animal Science, was created. Currently, it constitutes about 98% of the population of Polish geese.
2. Optimal environmental conditions
In addition to the pure goose genotype, natural conditions are another key factor in the development of high-quality down and feathers. Poland's temperate climate is conducive to the optimum feathering of the geese. Wide variations of minimum and maximum temperatures (below -30°C on cold winter nights and over 35°C on the hottest summer days) result in the formation of an excellent insulation layer that protects geese from frost and heat. Moreover, north-eastern Poland, where most farms are located, has extensive green pastures, clean water and pristine air. All these factors influence the formation of plumage with a well-developed and strong structure as well as snow-white colour.
3. Old breeding tradition
Of course, even the combination of perfect conditions and great genes is not a guarantee of success. Experience and proven breeding methods are also important. Animex operates within a vertically integrated supply system. It all starts with the aforementioned Institute in Kołuda Wielka, from where reproductive breeders receive laying goslings that grow up on happy farms to lay as many eggs as possible. Next, eggs laid by laying geese are bought in by hatcheries. After goslings are hatched, they are transferred to professional breeding farms. They are reared there for a period of 16-18 weeks until reaching the target weight of about 6.5 kg/head. The leading market participants are associated in Krajowa Rada Drobiarstwa – Izba Gospodarcza (the National Poultry Council - Chamber of Commerce), which functions as a market integrator, e.g. keeps breeding registers for the Ministry of Agriculture and issues certificates of origin for the feather raw material. The vertically integrated breeding system enables the preservation of species purity and ensures quality control and well-being of animals at all stages, which results in the highest parameters of down obtained from Polish geese.
4. Down cover removal technology
In the second half of the 20th century, the Polish poultry industry developed standards for the post-mortem acquisition of goose feathers divided into fractions. They determined how to pluck out different types of feathers, differentiated according to their location on the body of geese, and then segregate and process them individually. The standards differentiated four main fractions of goose down:
A1 – abdominal and thoracic
A11 – side
A13 – neck
A26 – wing
*The largest wing feathers of the first and second order can be obtained for the production of badminton shuttles. However, they are more frequently treated as waste.
The aim of obtaining and processing of feather raw material divided into fractions was to extract the best quality parameters of down and feathers. Furthermore, in order to preserve the structure of down and feathers in the best possible condition, the technique of manual post-mortem removal of feather cover was introduced. After 1989 and the change of regime to the free market, most slaughterhouses reduced the number of fractions to 3 or even 2 or completely abandoned the separation of fractions in order to seek savings and abandoned manual removal of feathers due to the high costs and time-consuming nature of these methods. Today, only a few slaughterhouses in Poland obtain feathers in accordance with the original standard. This means that this technique is unique in the world.
5. The technology of processing the feather raw material
Processing of raw material into top-quality down requires a combination of appropriate knowledge, specialist skills and professional machines for processing goose feathers. The procedure of processing the raw material begins with washing, where the feathers are thoroughly cleaned of any deposits and residues, so that it can be sterilised. Then, microorganisms and mites are effectively removed to ensure that the filling is as clean and non-allergenic as possible. Next, the material goes to special silos where it is sorted. It is a precise process of separating down from feathers and mix of down and feathers. It is especially important for obtaining high-quality down. In order to obtain the highest quality, the best in the industry use the so-called manual sorting, i.e. the separation of down with the use of human skills. Dust removal is also an important factor in the process of obtaining down. It consists in removing excess dust and outflows (single pieces of down and feathers). The best production plants in the world also have their own quality control laboratories to be able to ensure the highest quality of their products at each stage of production.
A renowned brand
The above factors influence the highest quality of Polish Goose Down. This also translates to high demand for Polish products all over the world. Although the supply of Polish Down constitutes only 3% on a global scale, the interest in it is very high, especially on the most prestigious markets, i.e. in Japan or Germany.