Most people who know of Canada Goose likely know that what fills its stylish parkas is down. Goose feathers are one of the things that make the coats so unbelievably warm.
To the consumer who wonders how exactly the feathers get there, Canada Goose offers a host of reassurances. One of them is a video, posted on its website, that features one of the company’s suppliers.
“We treat our geese very special,” the man in the video says, as he drives around a geese farm. “It’s definitely a job where you have to show lots of tender loving care, and we spend a crazy amount of time with the little chicks.”
That place is a Manitoba farm called James Valley Colony Farms (JVC). But another video seen by Global News tells a very different story.
The video, shot by animal activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), shows JVC geese piling onto each other in the corner of a fenced area as men grab them by the neck, sometimes two at a time, to shove them into tiny transport crates too low for them to stand up.
So eager are the geese to escape, that they smother at least one of their own. One worker is seen grabbing the dead goose and throwing it over the fence.
“There is nothing humane” about that video, said Anne Brainard, director of corporate affairs at PETA.
JVC confirmed that the images in PETA’s video come from its farm. Canada Goose told Global News that JVC is currently one of its suppliers but said the geese shown in the video are not related to its supply chain.
“The video shows JVC geese being shipped to Schiltz Foods, a slaughterhouse in South Dakota. The geese shown in the video are not part of the Canada Goose supply chain. However the farm where the video was shot, is. Though JVC is a supplier of Canada Goose, geese supplied by JVC for Canada Goose go to Ontario-based Feather Industries,” the brand said.
The JVC geese that are meant to provide down for Canada Goose parkas are shipped to a meat processing plant in Manitoba. Feather Industries then buys the by-product feathers that enter the Canada Goose supply chain, a spokesperson for Feather Industries said via email.
JVC, for its part, said it would train staff to ensure animals are “treated more humanely during loading.”
“We recognize there are improvements that could be made to the loading process and we are working on making this procedure better for the geese,” JVC general manager Edward Hofer wrote to Global News via email.
Hofer said the man featured in Canada Goose’s video is his older brother, Aaron Hofer, who is goose manager at the farm.
He added that “loading geese for transport is difficult for both the birds and the workers as geese are very large birds with a large wing-span; they are easily frightened, and very difficult to handle.”
“We work very hard to ensure the geese have a quality of life while they are on our farm and we are always open to continuous improvement. The geese we supply receive an over 97-per-cent Grade-A rating from the processor, signifying that the geese are received in a condition that speaks to our proper raising and handling of the animals.”
Schiltz Foods, which also had an opportunity to review PETA’s video, said that the condition of the geese it receives from JVC is “within the parameters of geese transported by other producers.”
Editor’s note: A previous version of the following paragraph has been updated to reflect the fact that PETA has clarified that its eyewitness visited the farm:
PETA told Global News the video was shot by a witness, whom the organization is keeping anonymous, who visited JVC.
Though the latter part of the video shows images from Schiltz Foods, the bottom line, according to PETA, is that the majority of it “was taken at James Valley Colony Farms – Canada Goose’s own featured down supplier.”
And that video “shows workers grabbing geese and carrying them by the neck, terrifying them so much during the catching process that geese piled up on each other, causing suffocation and even death.”
That seems a far cry from tender loving care.