Some very famous brands have been talking to us recently about ethics.
Concerns have been raised about the wool fibre grown for their products. Animal activist groups, and lets be fair, who don’t really have a good reputation so far as unbiased and honest report go, claim that humans eat sheep. This is true; their claims are a worry in that they also claim that sheep are treated cruelly during their life on the farm. At this point please be clear that they are not accusing New Zealand farmers!
Here is the truth.
Sheep are grown all around the world. Local customs and local environments mean that standards and practices vary.
In New Zealand there are strict laws on animal welfare, good environmental management and social welfare. It’s a modern society with lots of checks in place to ensure that everything is done in a nice way. The clean and green New Zealand brand is fiercely protected. The last thing Kiwi’s want is to be seen as out of sync with nature.
New Zealand farmers are animal lovers that enjoy working with nature. Sheep are grown for food with wool being a relatively small part of the farmer’s income. The sheep are kept in large free-range properties, are sheltered, well fed and well looked after. A happy healthy sheep is a more productive animal.
The wool is taken from sheep once or twice a year depending on the type of sheep and the type of product the wool is grown for. During the shearing process the sheep are held in pens while they wait for their haircut. The sheep are held by the shearer in a relaxed state, and do not resist this process. They then go back to the paddock.
The farmers look after the land so that it can be passed onto their children and they look after the animals so they will be productive and keep giving us wool.
Not all parts of the world are as plentiful as New Zealand enjoying as much rainfall and sunshine and a moderate climate for wool. Third-world farming communities need our help and support so they too can reach maximum potential.
Rather the calling for a boycott on wool, which hurts the good growers, why not work with these communities and show them how it’s done. Shunning third world farmers out of your own ignorance does not make the world a better place.
Campaigns of anger create tension; destroy livelihoods and ultimately force people to do desperate things to feed their family. These extremist need to put down their digital placards and become part of the solution.
The video below illustrates the shearing process. Which as well as not causing any discomfort to the sheep, provides a livelihood for many hundreds of thousands of people in the textile industry around the world.