An industrial chicken feather problem / by Chris Maynard

 Rooster feathers.

Rooster feathers.

From 50 billion chickens killed each year, industrial farmers around the world throw away almost all of their feathers: 8 billion pounds into landfills. The chicken farming business is so competitive that farmers make only a few cents on each bird. farmers would rather sell the feathers than throw them away. There is hope: universities and private research labs are busy finding ways to transform feather proteins into usable products; some are finding their way into the market, but most are in development to make them economically vialble. Here is a list of what I found trolling the WEB for a few minutes:

fertilizer ● animal feed ● extracts for liquid and solid fuel ● hydrogen fuel storage ●  insulation ● absorbent materials for diapers and environmental contaminants such as radioactive strontium and cesium ● ingredients in paints ● filters ● mats for erosion control ● paper ● stuffing for furniture and mattresses ● moldable thermoplastics for soles of shoes, cups and plates, furniture, roofing, and for auto parts such as dashboards ● ingredients in cosmetics ● clothing ● boat construction (mixed with fiberglass ● and circuit boards.

Manufactures will soon take advantage of the special forms of protein found in feathers by grinding, mixing, heating, and formulating them with other chemicals to make feathers a bigger part of your life in the near future.  Perhaps when writing a future blog article, I will use a keyboard made out of feather plastic, use a computer with circuitry made in part from feathers, and sit on a chair made of feathers, stuffed with ground and re-purposed feathers.