Turkey Feathers in Textile Applications


Approximately two to four billion pounds of poultry feathers are produced every year by the poultry producing industry [1].  Most of the feathers are usually ground up and used as filler for animal feed [2,3].  However, this use has the potential to pass harmful bacteria along to the animals that ingest the feather meal.

Walter Schmidt and other researchers at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) have patented a method of removing the stiff quill from the fibers which make up the feather [4]. 

As this a potential untapped supply of natural fibers, research has been conducted at Philadelphia University to determine textile applications for feather fibers.  Initial research has focused on the use of turkey feather fibers, which are slightly longer in length than chicken feather fibers.

To date, turkey feather fibers have been blended with nylon and spun into yarns which were then knitted into fabrics. 

The yarns were tested for strength while the fabrics were evaluated as potential insulation materials.  In the case of the yarns, as the percentage of turkey feather fibers increased the strength decreased.  In fabric form, as the percentage of turkey feather fibers increased the heat retention capability of the fabric increased.

More recent research focused on applications of these fibers in nonwovens, specifically in erosion control materials.  Nonwoven fabrics containing only turkey feather fibers and latex were created and compared to two different types of commercial erosion control materials.  Although the turkey fabrics were stiff and degraded within several months, they did stabilize the soil enough for re-vegetation of the formerly bare site.



Evazynajad, A. "A Study of Production of Turkey Feather Fiber/Nylon Yarn and Fabric" Master's Thesis, Philadelphia University, 2000.

Evazynajad, M., Kar, A., Veluswamy, S., McBride, H., and George, B.R.  “Production and Characterization of Yarns and Fabrics Utilizing Turkey Feather Fibers” 2001 Proceedings of the Materials Research Society Fall Meeting.

Featured in “Materials Take Wing,” by Jessica Gorman, Science News February 23, 2002, Volume 161, pp. 120-121.

George, B.R., Bockarie, A., and McBride, H.  “Production and Characterization of Yarns and Fabrics Utilizing Turkey Feather Fibers Proceedings of  the 2002 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress & Exposition.

George, B.R., Evazynajad, A., Bockarie, A., and McBride, H., “Production and Characterization of Yarns and Fabrics Utilizing Turkey Feather Fibers” Natural Fibers and Polymers – Recent Advances ed. Wallenberger and Weston, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston, MA, 2003.

George, B.R., Bockarie, A., McBride, H., Hoppy, D., and Scutti, A., “Utilization of Turkey Feather Fibers in Nonwoven Erosion Control Fabrics” International Nonwovens Journal, Volume 12, Number 2, Summer 2003: 45-52.



1.  Schmidt, W., Agricultural Research Service, USDA, personal communication (November 1, 1999).

2.     Choi, J.M. and Nelson, P.V.  “Developing a slow release nitrogen fertilizer from organic sources.  II.  Using poultry feathers.”  J. Am. Soc. Hortic. Sci.  121 (4), 634-638, (1996).

3.     Vincent Corporation, “Feather meal.”  http://www.vincentcorp.com/apps/animal.htm, (November 1995).

4.     Comis, D.  “Chicken feathers: eco-friendly ‘plastics’ of the 21st century?”  Agricultural Research Service News (February 9, 1998).