Things you need to know about down and feathers
Down and feathers are a marvel of nature. In the following 6 points we are going to answer questions about their origin, their characteristic properties etc.
1. What are down?
A down looks like a delicate snow flake. It has a three-dimensional structure: light and fluffy down barbs which are soft as silk and endowed with delicate ramifications grow from an almost invisible down core. The fine barbules can store large amounts of air in between. One single down weighs only about 0.001 to 0.002 g. One kilo of down corresponds to a number between half a million and one million down clusters.
2. Where do down originate from?
Down form the undercoating of waterfowl, that is geese and ducks. Landfowl such as turkeys and chickens do not have any down. Down are growing beneath the covering plumage and can most frequently be found in the breast zone.
3. What are feathers?
Feathers form the main outer protection of the bird´s body
integument). The feather has a flat, two-dimensional shape with fine
feather barbules growing from the continuous quill on both sides.
The goose feather
The quill of the completely-developed goose feather has a round and blunt shape. The feather is strongly curved and has a compact shape. The end of the vane looks as if it has been cropped. At the lower end, you will often find a large number of plumules.
The duck feather
Duck feathers are delicate and have a strongly curved shape. They taper towards their tips or form a radiate shape.
4. Differences between down and feathers
First of all, down and feathers have different structures.
a type of their own, i. e. they are not young or small feathers and
they will never evolve into feathers. Down have no quill, but only a
punctate core which makes them a lot more resilient. Down are lighter
than feathers. Since they have a three-dimensional structure they have
a larger volume and higher fill-power values than feathers.
5. Why do light down have such a good insulation capacity?
Due to their three-dimensional structure and the capacity to
recover their original shape, down can store large amounts of air in
proportion to their weight. High-quality down consist of approximately
2 millions of fluffy barbules which are interweaved. Hence, they make
up an insulating layer which keeps the body warm. Down are resilient
and can therefore be compressed. If they are fluffed up thoroughly,
they will quickly resume their original shape.
6. What kind of plumage provides us with top-quality down?
Generally spoken, larger down are the best down. They come
adult birds. Therefore, geese usually supply us with top quality.
Top-quality down also derive from big ducks, though goose down show a
slightly different structure under the microscope. The larger goose
down tends to be stronger and provides higher fill power values.