Many of you may have been reading articles, or reblogged posts about the inhumanity of feather hair extensions. According to sources, roosters are apparently being slaughtered for the popular hackle feathers, making feather extension wearers and practitioners guilty of rooster genocide. These articles have of course, encouraged activists and complete strangers to yell “murderer” at people wearing feathers, and discouraged perhaps a few people from participating in the trend themselves.
What they aren’t telling you is that roosters, or would-be roosters (cute little male baby chicks) are usually killed the moment their sex is determined, as they’re worthless for meat in the chicken industry, and they fight with other roosters (hence cock-fighting).
The way baby chicks are killed in the meat & eggs industry is also inhumane, with the chick being thrown down a chute that opens into a dumpster where the chick suffocates under the bodies of other chicks. Some activism did result in the creation of free range farms, and larger chicken pens for caged fowl, but a majority of the industry still adheres to the basic premise and recycles the cast off chicks into feed.
Technically, the feather trend has added at least one year to rooster’s lives. Lives they would otherwise not have lived if there wasn’t a financial gain. It would be great if every rooster could live a long and happy life on a farm instead of dying one way or the other, but the fact of the matter is that eggs are laid at a prolific rate and so long as there are people wanting to eat chicken or use eggs, male chickens will be produced and unfortunately dispatched for lack of practical alternative.
I can understand if you’re vegetarian/vegan and you’d rather not participate in wearing the feathers of a dead bird, but for the rest of you who don’t question where your nuggets came from, or that omelette you had for breakfast, or those delicious brownies containing eggs… get off the bandwagon and do some fact checking before you ruin the livelihood of stylists who are trying to make a living.
If anyone had bothered to do any research before re-blogging these articles, they would also note that there are in fact, cruelty free sources of feathers.Aside from synthetic versions, many of the most interesting feathers used in extensions (which come from a variety of birds, though the most popular are rooster hackles) can be obtained when the birds shed or “drop” them. There are also feather sources that are not raised in cages, but rather are as free-range as the organic eggs available at the store. Rock-a-Feather, the originators of the feather extension trend, have been raising their own chickens, harvesting their feathers humanely and hand dying them for their needs.
I myself, am a practitioner of feather extensions, and have cruelty free, carefully collected feathers from my own back-yard chickens, as well as donated feathers from friends who gather them from their own birds.
Furthermore, the feathers are fairly resilient and therefore reusable, whether kept for jewelry or re-invested in the hair at a later date, which is notably more eco-friendly than other procedures routinely performed at salons, hence why feather extensions remain a popular alternative to chemical services (color/bleach), finding homes on many a crunchy hippie dread, goddess, child or mother-to-be.
Bert Waugh has done some exemplary things for street youth, (discarded teens, young people in transition) since the early nineties. His organization has created a haven for young people at various stages of their plight to feel cared for as well as given them plenty of things to look forward to. Listen to the radio broadcast on their page to hear more about the program. I challenge you to lack optimism afterward. Compassionate people exist.
I only have a moment before my classes start for the day, so I will have to update you about any developments after I get a chance to compose myself and call him back. -Chandra