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Sheep wool


The bloddy business of sheep wool production

Wool production is a thriving business especially overseas in regions such as Australia, South America and New Zealand. Animal welfare problems are prevalent in sheep farming - as with other farm animal systems.

Ever heard of "Mulesing"?

Mulesing is one of the most cruel sheep welfare issues: strips of their hind parts are literally cut out in order to prevent flystrike; a severe welfare issue in itself. Still mulesing does not fully prevent the occurrence of flystrike. FOUR PAWS strongly calls for the end of mulesing. Although mulesing is only carried out in Australia this issue cannot be overlooked due to the fact that Australia is the biggest wool exporting country.

FOUR PAWS wants to improve the life of millions of sheep being kept for their wool.
© iStock | John Carnemolla

Other welfare issues: Castration & tail docking

Other welfare issues include castration and tail docking – procedures that are commonly carried out in sheep farming around the world. A problem that however concerns Australia in a greater way is the transport of live animals: sheep are transported by ship to the Middle East. This week-long trip is extremely stressful for the animals. The fact that a lot of sheep die during the journey is willingly overlooked. 

What FOUR PAWS does

FOUR PAWS is part of the working group of the "Responsible Wool Standard". The industry will not stop using wool in the near future. Brands that choose to use any products of animal origin such as wool should take responsibility for the animals used for their end product. By creating a standard, animal welfare issues have to be tackled: FOUR PAWS makes sure that the highest possible requirements are in place – for better keeping practices of millions of sheep. 

What you can do

The animal friendliest way is to not use or buy wool at all. If you do not want to stop using wool:  local sheep producers usually sell wool products as well – you can check for yourself if the animals are treated well. Otherwise check companies’ websites on their policy on wool and wool sourcing or write to them asking how the animals are kept and what the company is doing to guarantee animal welfare along their supply chain.