Integrity and happy sheep


Happy SheepNew Zealand has a reputation for producing clean white soft lovely wool.  Recently via Facebook someone asked “Yeah that’s all OK but how do you treat the sheep?”

I think this was a fair question, although it did get some social media responses as it was read as a little insightful by some.

The short answer of course is “Really well” Our farmers want their animals to be healthy and happy.  They sign up to a wool growing integrity programme with important rules on the environment, social responsibility and Animal Welfare.

Our animal health and welfare manual has firm objectives to ensure that our wooly friends are provided with five basic freedoms.

1. Proper and sufficient food and water.

2. Adequate shelter.

3. The opportunity to display normal patterns of behavior.

4. Physical handling in a way, which minimizes pain or distress to the animal.

5. Protection from and rapid response to any significant injury or disease.

Our wool growers are very aware that if carpet buying people have uninformed views on animal treatment it can put them off purchasing animal fibres.

The growers’ practices are externally verified through an audit process, which they gladly do in order to qualify for our Integrity programme.

Farmers tend to be animal lovers, they don’t want to see any animal suffer and they know that healthy happy sheep grow better wool.

Happy Sheep in New Zealand

Happy Sheep

6 thoughts on “Integrity and happy sheep

  1. Hi Steve, Thank you for addressing this important issue, but your comments are not specific enough to address questions I have received in selling wool fabric. For instance, I’ve heard the sheep are sheared when it is convenient for the rancher, not the sheep and when they are shorn when it is still cold out there is a high mortality rate. My customers have also asked about the process of sheep dipping – dunking the sheep in chemicals to keep pests at bay, and then dumping those chemicals in indiscriminately; and mule-slinging to prevent pests that burrow into the sheep’s backside causing problems. Can you verify that these practices are not used in the certified program you discuss?

    • The farms are audited by Assure Quality NZ and comply with the New Zealand Animal Welfare act (1999). This makes it illegal to mules a sheep in New Zealand unless it is to correct an injury or mutation and it must be done by a vet and under pain relief. Luckily NZ sheep for interior textiles do not have the folds of skin that cause that issue for Australian Merinos.
      Sheep are indeed shorn when the wool is the right length and micron for the textile it is grown for, but not in the winter! The sheep do not suffer, they need their wool to be shorn.
      Sheep are no dunked, they have pesticides applied to protect them from insect attack. This is usually a spray and it is often a biodegradable eco-friendly chemical. We have to do this to meet EU eco-flower standards (which we do). We can and do verify all the welfare and environmental stuff and pass declarations to the people that make fabrics and carpets under the Laneve brand. Camira Fabrics use a lot of our pesticide free eco-flower certified wool. I hope this helps. Thanks for your comments.

      • Thanks for referencing this post Steve. Very informative and insightful, especially on the subject of mulesinging. It is also very helpful to know more detail about the Laneve brand requirements. I work with Camira and had not gotten this level of detail from them previously. Cheers!
        p.s. I have written about wool upholstery fabrics in my blog http://authentictextiles.com and hope to do more in the future, as a fellow wool lover and advocate. I appreciate the inspiration your blog often provides.

  2. My ex-husband was raving about his wonderful visit to Australia. I asked him whether he and his wife had a chance to visit New Zealand as, I explained, it is known to raise the most wonderful wool. His wife looked at me as though I were insane, but he grinned. 🙂

    • NZ is another 2000km beyond Australia, its like flying from London to Cairo.. but from this side of the world they seem very similar . As a patriotic kiwi I have to wonder why anyone would prefer to visit the dry and dusty Aussie outback when they could go to paradise with better sheep? As they say here in Yorkshire “None so strange as folk!” The Aussies do make great wool but you did not hear that from me. 🙂

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