An Overview of Feathers Formation, Moults and Down Production in Geese

  • Kozak, J. (Szent Istvan University, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental, Institute of Animal Husbandry)
  • Received : 2010.09.10
  • Accepted : 2010.12.14
  • Published : 2011.06.01


Feathers are one of the integument appendages that form the outer covering, or plumage, on birds. The goslings hatch with a downy coat of feathers formed in embryonic development. They moult the natal plumage into juvenile feathers between 3-5 weeks of age and than moult that juvenile plumage into adult plumage between 8-11 weeks of age. Feather weight of an adult goose makes up about 6.2% of its total body weight. Heritability of the feather production ability is relatively low ($h^2$ = 0.35). Within species or genotype, the quantity and composition of the plumage are affected by genetics (age, body weight or body surface area, feathering rate, sex) and environmental factors (nutrition and production system, weather, microclimate). After slaughter some 90-220 g marketable feathers can be obtained per goose. The yield of feathers and down from each hand-harvesting amounts to between 80 to 120 g per goose, depending upon the frequency and degree of completeness of the harvesting.


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