Down and feathers: Consulting and certification

Down and feathers are extremely popular as high-quality filling material for bedding and clothing. They provide high warmth retention combined with light weight.

Feathers tested for quality by WESSLING in its independent laboratories.

WESSLING supports manufacturers and producers with incoming goods inspections as well as with auditing and certification, for example for the DOWNPASS standard.

WESSLING carries out audits and certifications according to individual customer requirements such as supplier audits. In addition, WESSLING is listed with DOWNPASS e.V. and entitled to audit according to the DOWNPASS standard. The purpose of the DOWNPASS seal is to establish uniform standards for nature conservation, environmental protection and animal welfare by assessing producers and suppliers of the down and feather industry and to document a traceable supply chain.

Your contact for down and feathers

Lisa Hesener
„We are happy to support you with the introduction of the DOWNPASS standard in your company. Please do not hesitate to contact me!“

Down and feathers glossary

From Corporate Social Responsibility to hygiene – our glossary from A to Z provides you with an overview of the most important technical terms associated with down and feathers.

B: Bird flu

Bird flu

Bird flu is colloquially referred to as a viral disease of birds. It is transmitted by the influenza A virus H5N1. Bedding that is filled with down and feathers does not represent a potential danger for the transmission of bird flu.

C: Composition, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)


The quantitative composition of feathers and down is determined in accordance with DIN EN 12131 / IDFB part 3 and in conjunction with the labelling of the composition of finished feathers and down as the sole filling material (DIN EN 12934).

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) describes a company's voluntary contribution to sustainable development beyond the legal requirements. Corporate Social Responsibility also includes the social responsibility that a company assumes, its sustainable impact on the market, interaction with people, nature, and interest groups.

D: Dead plucking, DIN EN 12131, DIN EN 12943, DIN EN 1885, Down, Duck feather

Dead plucking

A distinction is made between live plucking and dead plucking during the production of down and feathers. In dead plucking, also known as slaughter plucking, the down and feathers are removed from the slaughtered poultry.

DIN EN 12131

European Standard 12131 defines the "quantitative composition of feathers and down". In this phase, the test equipment, the steps from sampling to separation and the test report are defined.

DIN EN 12943

European Standard 12934 is intended to indicate the "composition of finished feathers and down as the sole filling material".

DIN EN 1885

The European standard 1885 is used for the "naming and definition of feathers and down". The naming and definition takes place with regard to structure, animal species and other characteristics, such as damage.


Down is the undercoat of water-winged birds (ducks and geese) - land poultry such as chickens have no down.

Down is a genus of its own from which no feathers develop. They occur predominantly in the chest area and form a heat-protecting sheath there. Down is a flaky, three-dimensional structure with a barely visible core from which silky soft hairs with many shoots emerge. Thanks to their shape and the shoots, air cushions are created, which provide enormous thermal insulation.

Down is an excellent filling for duvets, because in addition to its insulating properties, down, unlike feathers, is very light. An individual down weighs between 0.001 - 0.002 grams. One kilo of goose down requires between 250,000 and 400,000 individual down.
For a covering to be able to be classified as a down duvet, the filling must contain at least 60% down.

Duck feather

Duck feathers are strongly curved and stocky in shape. Duck feathers are smaller than goose feathers and taper towards the top.

E: EDFA, Eiderdown


European Down and Feather Association - International membership organisation for associations of the bed-feather industry

This association was founded in 1980 and has its headquarters in Mainz. Its task is to represent the interests of the members of the bed-feather industry in Europe in a sustainable way.


Eider down comes from the eider duck, which is native to northern coastal areas such as Iceland, Greenland and Northern Canada. This particularly high-quality down is smaller and lighter than a goose or duck down, but has much more filling power: One kilo requires between 500 000 and 1 million eiderdown. Their lightness and yet high thermal insulation make them a unique natural filling to help ensure a good night sleep. Unlike goose or duck down, eiderdown is not a by-product of slaughter production. Rather, they are harvested by certified farmers in laborious manual labour from the nests abandoned after the brood. The eider duck insulates the nest with its fluff to protect the eggs from the Arctic cold. After the hatching season, the eider duck leaves its nest with its chicks – back into its natural habitat, the water.

F: Feathers, Filling weight, Fill power of down


Feathers are a bird’s outer protection against water and cold. In addition, they serve the bird as support for flight and camouflage. Due to their elasticity and insulating properties, waterfowl feathers, such as ducks and geese, are often used as a filling for duvets and pillows. In general, the two-dimensional structure consists of a keel and a plume (the feather hairs). Optically, goose and duck feathers can be easily distinguished by a few features. Goose feathers are larger than duck feathers and run straight to the upper end – they therefore often appear cut off. Duck feathers, on the other hand, are smaller and taper at the end.

Filling weight

The filling weight is the filling mass contained in a bedding product (e.g. pillows) – excluding the cover. The filling weight should not be confused with fill power.

Fill power of down

The fill power indicates how much down expands back into its original volume after a load. This force is measured in cubic inches (CUIN). In other words, the higher the fill power, the better the thermal insulation. High-quality down achieves a fill power of 700-800 cuin. The fill power is determined in accordance with EN 12130 / IDFB part 1.

G: Goose feathers

Goose feathers

Goose feathers are curved and stocky in shape, but still larger than duck feathers. The flag end of a goose feather looks as if it had just been cut off at the top. The keel of a full-grown feather is blunt and round. At the lower end there is usually a rich down.

H: Hygiene


The hygiene and purity requirements are in accordance with EN 12935, which assesses the microbiological condition. The test procedures for determining the microbiological condition are described in DIN EN 1884.

I: International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB)

International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB)

The International Down and Feather Bureau (IDFB) is an international association for the down and feather industry. Its aim is to ensure for consumers the purity of down and feathers.

L: Land poultry, Live plucking

Land poultry

Land poultry include turkeys and chickens.

Live plucking

The production of down and feathers is done by plucking – an exception is the production of eiderdown (which is collected from abandoned nests).
A distinction is made between dead plucking and live plucking. Live plucking may only be carried out in accordance with certain rules, such as the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, the standard for keeping plucked geese, or national animal welfare legislation. Improper live plucking is prohibited.

M: Moult, Moulting, Microbiological condition, Moisture determination


The natural shedding of bird feathers is called moult. The process is hormonally controlled and occurs at regular intervals.


Moulting is a naturally occurring process in which fowl shed their plumage while a new layer of down/feathers forms. At this time moulting can be carried out under certain rules.

Microbiological condition

The test procedures for determining the microbiological condition are described in DIN EN 1884.

Moisture determination

The moisture content is determined in accordance with EN 1161 / IDFB part 5. Moisture content is determined gravimetrically by drying.

N: New feather

New feather

Unlike recycled feathers, new feathers after plucking have never been used as filling material.

O: Oil and fat content, Oxygen number

Oil and fat content

Oil and fat content is determined in accordance with EN 1163 / IDFB part 4. This standard describes the procedure for determining the quantity of dichloromethane soluble components.

Oxygen number

The oxygen number is determined according to EN 1162 / IDFB part 7. This standard describes the procedure for determining the oxygen number of feathers and down by titration.

P: Pesticides


Pesticides can be transferred, via washing water, to down and feathers during the manufacturing process. WESSLING tests bedding for these pesticide residues for the Downafresh® greenLine eco label. This seal gives consumers peace of mind with regard to potential pesticices being transferred, as it identifies products that have been processed with ecological detergents that are environmentally friendly.

R: Recycled feathers

Recycled feathers

Recycled feathers are feathers that have already been used as filling material. To reuse them, they are washed again, dried and hygienically treated.

T: Ticking, Traumpass, Turbidity


A ticking is a dense twill or alta fabric, which is feather- or downtight. Usually a ticking is made of cotton. Ticking is mainly used for pillows and duvets.


Traumpass is a quality seal for products filled with down and feathers. The labelled products must correspond to the highest classes (I and II according to DIN EN 12934). Control association Traumpass e.V.


The determination of the turbidity of an aqueous extract is carried out according to EN 1164 / IDFB part 6. The standard specifies a procedure by which finished feathers and down are checked for their cleanliness by determining the content of undissolved and dissolved components in the aqueous extract.

W: Waterfowl


Waterfowl includes geese and ducks.

The international presence of WESSLING – on site

Our international customers rely on the many years of experience of our experts. We provide extensive on-site service through a network of sites in the major producing countries, including China and Poland.

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