Why Sheep Need our Protection
Do you prefer knitting and crocheting with wool from happy sheep?
The GOTS logo guarantees that our wool is from sheep that are well-treated.
For conventionally manufactured wool, this is not warranted. Even the highest quality yarn made from Merino wool does not automatically guarantee that the animals have a good life – quite to the contrary.
Conventionally kept Merino sheep often have to suffer unthinkable distress:
- Mulesing: 90% of the fine Merino wool comes from Australia, where this extremely painful procedure is common practice. In order to prevent flystrike, it is applied mainly to the small lambs and in large part without anaesthetisation (source: Wikipedia): "While the lamb is under restraint [...], the wrinkled skin in the animal's breech (rump area) is cut away from the perianal region down to the top of the hind limbs. In addition, the tail is docked and the remaining stump is sometimes skinned." The skin tightens while cicatrising such that no fly maggots can populate the smooth surface any more. Neither during nor after the intervention are painkillers or other pain relieving methods applied. Studies have shown that the experience is so traumatising for the sheep that they still flee from their tormentors 113 days after the event.
- Chemical Sheep Dips: In order to fight vermin the sheep are forced to bath in a chemical solution of insecticides and fungicides, often with their head under water. The innocent sounding term "Sheep Dip" is an ordeal for the sheep, and some of the chemicals used are described as highly toxic for humans. The residues in the wool can later get into the human body over the skin and cause health problems. Also for workers who carry out Sheep Dips, this poses a health risk according to the BBC and The Lancet.
- Slaughter Transports: They do not only play a role for animals that are kept for their meat, but also for old, disused sheep in the wool industry. Reportedly, Australia ships millions of sheep to countries in the Middle East every year, because slaughter is cheaper there. According to The Independent, such a transport takes approximately 32 days and three sheep are forced to share one square meter. Many of them die an agonising death by suffocation before even reaching the slaughter house.
What is being done Against Mulesing
In New Zealand, mulesing has meanwhile been banned. In Patagonia is it not practised at all because, for climatic reasons, flystrike is not a problem there. There are also organisations like ZQUE in New Zealand and Ovis21 in Patagonia that have specialised in trading mulesing-free wool. Australia has taken only first steps in this direction. The cost-efficient mulesing is still considered common practice and is applied to most of the sheep in Australia, which supplies about 90% of all Merino wool worldwide.
That means, if I as a knitter or crocheter choose a conventionally produced ball of Merino yarn, it will most probably have come from Australia and hence from sheep that have been mulesed.
Many well known brands have already dissociated themselves from mulesing and from textiles that are made of mulesing wool.
This is good, but what about the other above mentioned aspects?
How does Rosy Green Wool Help
We started Rosy Green Wool, because we find it important that the animals which give us their wonderful wool are treated with respect and are able to have a good life according to their needs.
To achieve this goal, using mulesing-free wool is essential, but we do not consider it sufficient yet. For this reason, we decided to have our entire production chain certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).
Internationally operating certification organisations thereby control on a regular basis that
- the animals are kept in a manner appropriate to their species and according to approved organic farming standards
- they do not have to suffer mulesing
- no Sheep Dips with toxic chemicals are used
- the animals are not sent on slaughter transports under cruel conditions
By means of the GOTS logo we are able to offer our customers a security and transparency which in this form is not given by any other vendor of Merino hand-knitting yarn so far.
And the GOTS logo has even more advantages for humans and the environment!
Protection of Breeds that Are Rare and Endangered
During our work with sheep's wool we became aware that there is another important field which urgently needs help: Many old sheep breeds are threatened with extinction, because they are not able to meet today's commercial demands.
Organisations like the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) in Great Britain or the Gesellschaft zur Erhaltung alter und gefährdeter Haustierrassen e.V. in Germany therefore urgently depend on our support.
For this reason, we from Rosy Green Wool have thought of something special: a vintage yarn from the rare breed Manx Loaghtan that is unique for each year and has its terroir indicated. A yarn that does not only bring joy while knitting and wearing, but enables our customers to contribute in an easy way to the protection of the species. With each skein sold we support the RBST and its work to protect endangered sheep breeds.
Since Manx Loaghtan are bred in England, they do not have to fear Mulesing, but other aspects mentioned above, such as Sheep Dips or keeping them in a manner not appropriate to their species, may still affect them. For this reason, we only process Manx wool from sheep that are kept according to approved organic farming standards. The finished yarn is GOTS-certified, as are all our yarns.