Fowl Play

The demand for feather hair extensions is causing roosters to be slaughtered at an astonishing rate.

You can’t walk down the hallway at school without seeing girls sporting the new hair trend. But what some people might not know is where those feather extensions came from.

For years rooster feathers have been used to make fly-fishing lures. The animals have been bred specifically to grow long saddle feathers, which are what the hairpieces are made of. Western Colorado’s Whiting Farms is the largest producer of fly feathers in the world. The average life span of a rooster on the farm is one year, but if a rooster were in its natural habitat it could live up to 15 years. To keep up with the demands of salon owners and the usual fly fishing customers, every week Whiting Farms ships out about 65,000 bird hides. Even if the bird survives the saddle feather plucking process it is put to death by euthanization.

The average length of time a person wears an extension is three months. Before the hair fad, to buy a bundle of 400 feathers would cost somewhere between $80 and $100. Earlier this year a pack on eBay was sold for over $500.

Some roosters would still be put to death even if the hair trend had never happened. But it’s important to know where products come from so consumers can make an informed decision on whether they want to support a certain company or product.

There are ‘guaranteed cruelty free’ places to buy feather extensions and accessories, like here and here. Or you can make one yourself.