Eider Down Farming

12 07 2013

It is not farming in the traditional sense, but eider down is harvested in Iceland by specialized eider farmers. The eider duck (Somateria mollissima) can be found everywhere along the coasts of Iceland. Eiders are found in northern regions, where it has adapted itself to the cold and capricious climate. In Iceland the eider duck is a resident bird, nesting along the coast and on some small islands.

The female lays 4-6 eggs in the nest, lined with down which she plucks from her breast, where it becomes loose at the time the eggs arrive. Hatching takes up to four weeks and in due time the female leaves the nest.

The female lays 4-6 eggs in the nest, lined with down which she plucks from her breast, where it becomes loose at the time the eggs arrive. Hatching takes up to four weeks and in due time the female leaves the nest.

The down, having served its prime purpose, is blown away by the wind or, more usefully, gathered by the eider farmer. These so called “farmers”, watch over the nests and protect the birds from foxes. Some four hundred farmers, producing approximately 3.000 kilos of pure eider-down, derive a part of their income, even a considerable part, from the eider colonies, through the collection and cleaning of the down.

The insulating properties, lightness, cohesiveness and elasticity of eider-down make it a unique product. The eider down export value exceeded ISK 500 million (USD 4.0 million, EUR 3.2 million) in 2012.

 Where there is peace and quiet, the eider ducks tend to flock together in tightly packed nesting sites, often encouraged in this by farmers who have learned from experience how to attract the bird and encourage it to nest.

Where there is peace and quiet, the eider ducks tend to flock together in tightly packed nesting sites, often encouraged in this by farmers who have learned from experience how to attract the bird and encourage it to nest.

MUST SEE VIDEO:

http://haukursig.com/skolliales/

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