With more than one month of winter left in Melbourne, the cold still lingers in the air, making us reach for our wool jumpers, gloves and scarves without a second thought. But wool is not as warm as you may think, at least when it comes to cruelty to sheep.
Naturally, sheep grow just enough wool to insulate themselves against both cold and hot weather. However, genetic alterations and breeding has made sheep in the wool industry produce excessive amounts of wool. Shearing during the winter is common, particularly in southern Australia, where sheep will suffer from the cold and some will even die from the harsh winter weather, as many farms do not provide adequate shelter.
In addition, shearers often handle sheep roughly, cutting and wounding the sheep, in an attempt to shear quickly, as they are paid by the amount of wool rather than by the hour.
Furthermore, lambs are subjected to an even crueler procedure known as ‘mulesing’ to reduce flystrike. This involves the skin surrounding the tail stump being cut off, which often leaves bloody wounds. Barely half the lambs receive even short-term pain relief and barely any will receive veterinary care. In fact, contrary to its very purpose, the open wounds take time to heal and during this time the lamb is at increased risk of flystrike
With so many alternative fabrics that don’t involve this suffering, it should be easy to stay warm without wool.
Alternatives to wool (for knitwear) include:
- Cotton & polyester blend
- Acrylic & polyamide blend
So please show warmth to sheep who need their warm coat more than we do.