Roosters are Painfully Gassed to Death for Fashion and Fishing

“They aren’t good for anything else.” Whiting Farms president Thomas Whiting

Steven Tyler Feathers

Rooster feather hair extensions have become a fashion trend. The business of raising roosters for feathers used by fly fishermen (to lure fish to their death by mimicking insects that sit on the water) has expanded to include a fashion market for this “fun little attraction for people to look at.”

The biggest U.S. supplier of these feathers to retailers is Whiting Farms in Colorado. Until recently Whiting Farms’ market was fly fishing, but when American Idol host and famed Aerosmith musician, Steven Tyler, started braiding his hair with rooster feathers, “feather hair extensions” became fashionable. According to Whiting Farms, “Each rooster has only a small number of tail feathers that can be used for sales – sometimes none, sometimes 5 or 6.” Up to 1,500 roosters are killed by this company each week for the fashion industry. The dead roosters are trashed.

In July, UPC contacted Whiting Farms president Thomas Whiting to clarify his claim that his company “painlessly euthanizes the chickens so there is no distress nor blood.” He replied: “We use carbon dioxide gas to euthanize all our birds.” By “all our birds” he means the company’s breeding flocks as well as the roosters born from these flocks for their feathers.

Whiting Farms does not euthanize its birds. “Euthanasia” is a Greek word meaning a “good death.” Death by carbon dioxide is NOT euthanasia. It’s a terrible, cruel death, and as animal scientist Mohan Raj explains, “Birds and other animals completely avoid, hesitate to enter, or rapidly evacuate from an atmosphere containing high concentrations of carbon dioxide.”

Carbon dioxide (CO2) activates brain regions in birds and mammals that are involved with the perception of pain. CO2 causes panic in response to the sensation of suffocation and breathlessness, or dyspnea, that occurs when the amount of atmospheric CO2 exceeds 30 percent. Inhalation of carbon dioxide is both painful and distressing because birds, like humans, have chemical receptors (intrapulmonary chemoreceptors) that are acutely sensitive to carbon dioxide. This sensitivity produces an effort to expel the gas by breathing more rapidly and deeply, but breathing more rapidly and deeply only increases the intake of CO2, leading to slow suffocation. This is the experience that Whiting Farms is putting its roosters and parent flocks through in order to extract feathers for fashion and fishing.

What Can I Do?

- 4 Big Things!

  1. Please write to Steven Tyler at his New York and Los Angeles addresses and send him an email if you’re on the Internet. Ask him to PLEASE stop wearing rooster feather hair extensions and to publicize his decision. A statement by Steven Tyler would help eliminate this cruel fashion. There are many beautiful animal-free fabrics to wear instead of ornaments extracted by violence from mistreated birds.

    Steven Tyler
    Tenth Street Entertainment
    568 Broadway, Suite 608
    Eric Sherman, Josh Klemme, Liz Stahl
    New York NY 10012

    Steven Tyler
    700 San Vicente Blvd, Suite G410
    West Hollywood, CA 90069

    Sample Letter

    Dear Steven Tyler,

    PLEASE stop wearing rooster feather hair extensions, and publicize the fact that you are dropping this cruel fashion. You are an admired celebrity around the world. A public statement announcing your decision to stop wearing feather hair extensions, after learning how they are obtained, would help eliminate this unfortunate fashion. There are many beautiful animal-free fabrics you can wear, encourage, and publicize instead. We urge you please to do this.

    Hair extension feathers are obtained from roosters who are warehoused and cruelly gassed to death merely to extract a few feathers from each dead bird’s body which is then trashed. These proud male birds belong outdoors with a flock of adoring hens instead of being imprisoned in filth and squalor for their feathers. Surely you agree!

    Please show compassion to these birds and stop wearing their feathers. Tell the world you are switching to feather-free hair ornaments. Start a new fashion trend!

    Thank you for promoting compassionate fashion. I look forward to your response.

    Sincerely, ____________

  2. Sign our Petition! United Poultry Concerns has created a petition on our Website addressed to Steven Tyler urging him to wear and promote compassionate fashion fabrics and to Bond with Beautiful Male Birds in a Spirit of Life instead of Death. Please sign our petition by clicking on At this writing we have over 1800 signatures! Add yours!

  3. Contact the AVEDA company . One of our members in New York City was shocked to see feather hair extensions being prominently displayed for sale at the Scott J. Aveda Salon on W 72nd St. & Columbus Avenue in Manhattan. The feathers came from Whiting Farms. Aveda, a large beauty care chain which represents all of its products as
    plant-based “pure flower and plant essences” (, assured UPC that feather hair extensions “don’t meet our mission” and “we don’t support the selling of these products.” Yet they went on to say that Aveda has no control over its retail outlets. This is not acceptable. Rooster feather hair extensions are showing up in Aveda stores everywhere. Compassionate consumers patronize Aveda believing it to be an ethical, animal-friendly company. By trafficking in rooster feathers, Aveda is betraying its mission and profiting from animal abuse. Request a written response to your protest.

    Dominique Conseil, President
    4000 Pheasant Ridge Drive
    Blaine, MN 55449
    Customer Service: 1-800-328-0849
    Fax: 1-800-236-4301

  4. Spread the word. Anyone you see wearing feathers braided into their hair or buying or selling “feather hair extensions,” politely inform them that roosters are being raised by the thousands in filthy battery-cage warehouses, cruelly gassed to death, and thrown away like garbage merely for a few feathers from each bird’s body. Educate fashion and teen magazine editors, Aveda retailers and others about the suffering and death these poor birds are enduring merely for a fashion item that can easily be made from cloth fabric. (Needless to say, this is one more reason to reject the ugly violence of fishing.)

Photo: Davida G. Breier
oliver and hens
Beautiful roosters like Oliver are gassed to death for a few of their tail feathers, then trashed.