In recent years, the quality of China's down products has improved. China produces roughly 80 per cent of the world's down feathers from geese and ducks and consists of light, fluffy filaments growing from a central quill point, thereby creating a three dimensional structure which traps air and gives down the insulating ability. Down is designed to help keep waterfowl warm, but it is now commonly used and promoted as a natural stuffing for warm clothing and bedding for humans instead. Body feathers (from ducks, geese and other birds kept for meat or eggs) are also used to stuff pillows, cushions, bedding/clothing and other such items.
It takes the down from approximately 75 birds to make an average comforter. Although the majority of feathers come from China, they are also produced in Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the European Union and the US.
The massive amounts of feathers required to fill all the bedding, clothing and other down products sold across the world are primarily obtained from dead birds during the automated processes used by the food industry. However, for many there is an ethical difference between using feathers that are already a by-product of the poultry industry and live plucking birds for this resource.