by Michael dEstries
Categories: Animals, Fashion
Tags: .

America’s obsession with feathers as hair extensions is leading to a ramp up in the amount of animals exploited for the craze.

Celebs like Ke$sha and Steven Tyler have often been spotted sporting the look – and fans everywhere have been hitting salons asking for the same thing. It’s gotten so out of hand that at least one farm in Western Colorado is now killing up to 1,500 roosters per week just for their backside “saddle” feathers.

Ke$ha must have caught wind of the cruelty because she recently tweeted that she was concerned over the deaths and abuse and wanted fans to look elsewhere. “I’d love to give u guys my own personal feather contact. she’s totally animal friendly + recycles bones + feathers to make all my accessories,” she tweeted.

Of course, all of this attention has thrown the spotlight on the fly fishing industry, which genetically breeds roosters for their plumage to be used in lures. “It takes years and years and years to develop these chickens to grow these feathers. And now, instead of ending up on a fly, it’s going into women’s hair,” Matt Brower, a guide and assistant manager at Idaho Angler in Boise told the AP.

Can’t say we feel sorry for the guy.

As Meghan Joyce over on ThisDishIsVeg commented after learning about the animal cruelty and removing her extension: “Let’s recognize the rooster-butt-feather-in-your-hair thing for what it is: as ridiculous as it sounds.”

About Michael dEstries

Michael has been blogging since 2005 on issues such as sustainability, renewable energy, philanthropy, and healthy living. He regularly contributes to a slew of publications, as well as consulting with companies looking to make an impact using the web and social media. He lives in Ithaca, NY with his family on an apple farm.

View all posts by Michael dEstries →
  • herwin

    another deranged celeb who talks about “cruelty free” animal products and … “recycled” ..(?) bones ? How can that be animal friendly ? Newsflash : animals don’t give up their bones without a fight.

    luckely there is Meghan Joyce who keeps me from banging my head on the nearest wall in unbelieve of such gros stupidity, who does the only reasonable thing like ditching the cruel stuff, if only these vain celebs would do the same so their tweenie fans would copy the behaviour. Thanks, Meg, you’re a life saver ! :-)

    • Mere

      She means that these birds have already been killed for food or whatever, and so she’s using whatever’s leftover.

      • Sarah

        B.S.! The birds cannot be killed for food. In order for this species of birds to produce feathers they have to live at least a year. After about 40 days chickens get really really bad, gamey, horrible meat which is never ever sold. If you ever lived on a farm and ate a year old chicken you’d know what I’m talking about. These are not food industry chickens. And yes: animals don’t give up their bones without a fight! Recycled bones? what?

  • Logan

    She means recycled bones as in she gets bones from company’s and she uses them over and over the companies just throw bones away. ^^

    • Sarah

      what you wrote here made absolutely no sense.

  • Maggie

    Here’s an even better idea; avoid feathers all together. If you disagree with something, spend your dollar elsewhere…consumers drive the market by where they spend their money. Do not buy the product at all; how can you truly know the product is “cruelty-free”? Animals should not be exploited for any means, much less “fashion”.

    • Barbara

      Maggie I agreed consumers drive the market. Wake up! That’s why we have steaks at the store to fur coats in the winter to leather tennis shoes on your feet! How about lanolin lotion (do you think that came from “cruel-free” lambs?)
      Animals have been exploited since we invented to wheel to take them to market. It’s called higher evolution!

    • Sarah

      Maggie you’re a smart girl!

  • Mikki

    I am a 14 year old girl and, you all might be surprised, but I’ve fly fished all my life and I think it’s totally ridiculous that women are using large saddle feathers in their hair. I have a fly tying desk at home and I have feathers that I have been using for over 10 years because I use small pieces for my flies. It’s such a waste that women put whole entire feathers in their hair for “fashion” and they end up falling out and getting thrown away in the end. They wouldn’t have to kill so many roosters if the feathers weren’t being used up so quickly.

    And to kesha: the bones and feathers had to come from somewhere where an animal was killed. If you really want to recycle there are plenty of bones and feathers in the woods from animals that died naturally. It’s a lot less expensive to make jewelery out of things that you just find out in the woods.

    That’s all I have to say :)

    • megan

      you’re a sensible young woman Mikki

      • Sarah


  • Lara

    I lol at people who try to stay away from products made from animals. You eat chicken and beef, so what’s wrong with wearing leather and feathers?
    Most of the candy you eat has Gelatin in it, which is made of ground hooves of cows, horses, pigs, and sheep. The shimmer in your lipstick is made from ground up fish scales, and the red is made from a bug.

    • don miguelo

      I lol at people who are too jaded to try themselves and then pull down everyone around them so that they feel better about their ‘realist’ perspective.

      This is too an important a message to be clouded with gotcha’s and petty problems. Yes I recycle my aluminum cans but shouldn’t quit entirely because I didn’t recycle my aluminum bike when I was 10 years old. Every little bit helps!

      MIKKI, great post and great perspective!
      Made me think of how the Audobon Society got started and part of why the Everglades got protected National Park status:

      “The Florida Everglades has over 350 species of birds reported in sightings, 200 of which are migratory. In the late 1800s naturalist John James Audubon traveled to visit the fragile Everglades ecosystem where these migratory birds have been nesting and feeding for thousands of years. Public outrage was growing to stop the mass commercial hunting of our Nation’s wading birds for the plume industry and the Great White Egret was high on the targeted hit list. It is fitting the Great White Egret is the symbol of the National Audubon Society, one of the oldest environmental organizations in North America. The Audubon Society was founded to protect all species of wading birds from being killed for their feathers. It is amazing that it took over 300 Great White Egrets to yield just one kilo of feathers with plumes selling for twice the value of their weight in gold.” (from tigerhomes website)

      –Just something to think about.

    • Kimberley McClean

      this is ridiculous. tell me how using a beautiful long feather to tie into the shape of a bug, so that a fish can try and swallow it, so you can then KILL THE FISH, is more honorable or respectful to the bird that grew it and died for you to have it…I wear all types of feathers in my hair and from my ears,and i feel LUCKY and HONORED to wear such beautiful things from nature…I respect and love my feathers and take care of them, because the creature that grew them for me had a soul. I know if I was a bird and died for someone to use my feathers , I would rather be hanging from a nice girls head with everyone “ooing and ahhing” at how pretty I am, than tied up to look like an insect and fed to a fish! haha

      I make feather jewelry and try to buy cruelty free feathers wherever I can. Check out my stuff =)

      • don miguelo

        Way to advertise!

        I think that cruelty-free feathers is the way to go, or ones found in nature on the ground, as people have said. Mikka says she’s been using the same set of feathers for 10 years! At least that’s not contributing to the fly-fishing feather providing industry! Buying them in bulk weekly from unsustainable sources (like they do in the fashion capitals of the world, because whoever has the cheapest feather is going to get the sale) certainly is worse! Most fly fishermen I’ve ever known made their own from found feathers, just like your earings.

        Yes fly fishing with them can kill fish and that gets vegans and animal rights people talking about ethics, but a common tenet of veganism is to not use animal products or by-products for ANY reason. That’s more the issue here. If we were still tribal and lived in harmony with the Earth, we could all fly fish and wear feathers in our hair, but with 600 billion people on the Earth every little decision adds up into problems.

        As the article says: “at least one farm in Western Colorado is now killing up to 1,500 roosters/week just for their backside ‘saddle’ feathers.” all for a recent fashion trend. I wonder how many are killed annually for fly-fishing?

        I’m glad Kesha is speaking up against that level of atrocity. It’s refreshing to see a young celeb trying to do right.

      • Michael dEstries

        Well said, Don.

      • Lexi

        {I would rather be hanging from a nice girls head with everyone “ooing and ahhing” at how pretty I am, than tied up to look like an insect and fed to a fish!}

        Pushing sales and a gigantic display of personal vanity! I shall ooo and ahhh at your display of stupidity! I don’t think the bird wanted to die so his feathers could adore your or anyone else’s head. What a ridiculous statement.

      • Sarah

        you are a dolt, just so you know. i don’t think a rooster will die with great honor knowing that its ass feathers will be glued to your head

    • Sarah

      Lara this is not a vegetarian issue. This is just pure wastefulness. What you might want to consider is how we have an overpopulated world of humans, and food is going to become an issue. The way we are using and abusing our topsoil to produce grains for the meat industry and to feed the world is already unsustainable. And now here we are raising a large population of animals and keeping them alive for over a year purely because the mature rooster makes these feathers. Once the feathers are harvested there is no use for the chicken, it cannot be eaten. This has absolutely nothing to do with gelatin. Go on a gelatin webpage to profess your support of eating gelatin. The chicken you eat is guaranteed no older than 40 days. After that much time chicken tastes awful and texture is horrible, unpalatable. Nobody eats year old chickens, and these chickens are not being sold to meat industry. We are feeding and breeding animals in the name of fashion and it is unconscientious!

  • Austin

    Wow, it’s sad how something so cruel has become a big trend and people aren’t even aware of what they r doing to these poor animals by buying the feathers

  • Gábor Bazsánt


  • Mikki

    i think everyone who eats meat should go back to hunting for natural game meat instead of eating that disgusting domesticated meat. did you know that your hamburger, hot dog, chicken, etc. has probably been walking around in a crowded room in its own feces for a few months while being injected with chemicals? disgusting. who’s up for an all-game meat revolution?

    • Sarah

      again, this is not a vegetarian issue, go on a vegetarian forum for that. these birds have NOTHING to do with the food industry. this is cruelty for fashion and leisure purposes only

  • Stephanie

    I don’t know who that Lara girl thinks she is,
    but she needs to shut up.
    okay, we do eat that stuff, but it’s for our health, not fashion, stupid.
    the candy, not so much but I myself don’t really eat candy.
    the lipstick thing your saying, shut up.
    you’re coming off as stupid.
    the world is an imperfect place, everyone knows that.
    there’s no stopping what people are doing by putting our own two-sence in a comment on a blog thing.

  • Stephanie

    I know that sounded rude,
    but it wasn’t meant to.
    I’m just mad.
    sorry Lara.

  • trip

    I say keep on churning out these feathers! I am a hairstylist and we can’t keep them in stock! They are paying for my ticket to see ke$ha on tour this summer so she should consider it a trade off. All I care about is my paycheck and these feathers are really filling them out!

    • Sarah

      sick! have fun with your blood money

  • Meg

    Dear Stephanie, shut up, you’re coming off as stupid.
    It doesn’t matter that YOU don’t eat candy, she wasn’t just talking to YOU.
    Do you know exactly what lipstick is made of?
    You can’t stop her talking by putting your own TWO CENTS in on a comment either.

  • Taryn aka taz

    if i want feathers i collect interesting ones that i find on the ground and then tie em to a peice of leather and wrap em round my head…TADA…easy! looks good, its creative and unique coz you did it yourself and nothing is harmed in the process…pet shops have heaps of feathers also that fall out naturally …go and sus it out…. and take a few deep breaths ppl thing about foccusing on the soloution a bit more ay,,,instead of bitching about the problem =)

  • Taryn aka taz

    p.s you rock Ke$ha LOVE ya GUTS

  • Taryn-louise Carter

    oh and btw…PEACE hehe

  • Mandy

    Some of you guys are missing the point, most people who want that feather will get it no matter what we say, but she’s saying if you MUST buy one, why not get a cruelty free one? I wouldn’t wear one, but then again I don’t eat or wear any animals.

    • herwin

      yeah, the only problem is, that if a limited number of people want “cruelty free feathers, it would be possible, but if it it is a trend and millions of people want it, it’s just imposible to get “cruelty free feathers”. In that case “feathers” are big busines and i NEVER seen big busines and “cruelty free” in one sentence, so to speak.
      My respect goes wholeheartedly to Meghan Joyce who simply ditches this tweenie fashionable item and in this way makes an ethical statement.

      • Sarah

        Herwin, I so agree.
        Everyone, this is an example of someone who is looking at the bigger picture. That’s what thinking globally is really about.

  • Hair Royalty

    There are alternatives check
    Stop the killing!

  • Meg

    Dear Trip,
    Selfesh much?? Of course you don’t care about the chickens that are being killed. All you care about is your paycheck. I feel bad for the chickens..

  • Sue

    EVERYTHING we do has an impact. Everything we eat, everything we wear, everything we use. The important thing is to know where the feathers come from and how their use impacts animals and the environment. Then you can make a decision as to whether this fashion trend is worth it to you.

    • herwin

      feathers come from roosters and they didn’t donate their feathers in a jolly spirit, that’s for sure..
      If only one side can choose and forces the other side to comply to that choose, no matter if it is between two humans or between a human and an animal, is it really a free choiche…? or simply the right of the strongest who does what he wants to do ?

  • Cecily

    I have an Idea, Why not just go to a craft store or something and buy those fake feathers? they last longer and no animals get hurt in the process.

  • Ashley

    I don’t want to see any animal suffer for any reason. I agree with cecily buy fake ones, or by the ones on the internet that are made out of human hair to look like feathers. In the long run getting them that way is cheaper and cruel free.

  • Animal luver

    Kesha is awesome! I hate that all the girls at my school r super girly and wear these stupid things! Talk about knuckleheads…

  • Kendra

    You can get naturally molted cruelty free natural and grizzly emu feather hair extensions here: . Emu have lots of feathers and they shed a lot. No one ever killed an emu for feathers, but some people do keep emu flocks for their huge eggs or as pets. They are friendly birds if socialized when young.

    But unfortuntely, unlike emus, all the long skinny rooster feathers out there are from killed birds. Those birds were specially raised only for their feathers and all the (very few) companies that have the long skinny feather genetic lines do kill their birds to harvest the feathers. They only save a few birds of each generation for breeding and the rest are cleared out to make space for the generation after. You can also get rooster feathers from backyard roosters, but those feathers will all be short, fat, and fuzzy like normal roosters have.

  • Doc

    The feather trend is a cruel one, unless you can take the animals out of the equation. Doctored Locks has done just that! Synthetic and Human hair faux feathers! Get the same great look, only VEGAN!

  • NDNgirl4ever

    You do realize that an animal had to die to produce the piece of leather you tie the feathers to, right? So your statement that “nothing is harmed in the process” is FALSE!