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Clothing - Wool

Animals affected

L, S, R, G

Range

Internacional

AREA OF FAADA ACTIVITY

Spain

Description

Wool is a natural fibre that comes from sheep and other animals like llamas, alpacas, guanacos, goats or rabbits. It is retrieved through a process called shearing. This fibre is used in the textile industry to make a variety of products and is valued for its longevity and elasticity.

Production system

Shearing is the process of extracting wool. It is carried out once a year, and then it grows over the following 12 months when they are sheared again just before the summer. In warmer areas shearing may happen twice a year.

Formerly hand shears were used, but nowadays shearing is done with electric clippers. They start under the belly, moving to the limbs and finish off with the head and neck. The downside of this method is that they leave the animal’s skin completely unprotected, without a layer of lanolin (wool grease). The sheep will take about 20 days to recover enough wool growth to protect her (from the sun and the cold weather). Hand shears, though, compress the fibres without breaking through and leave a thin layer of wool on the sheep. This is a positive point for those in favour of this method. However, the hand shearing method has to be done close to the skin, therefore there is more likelihood of nicking the animal and causing it pain.

In 2015 a total of 12,835,900 animals were sheared (3.8% more than 2014), producing 23,336 tonnes of wool.

When sheep are no longer useful for producing wool, they are taken to the slaughter house for meat.

Screwworm myiasis and mulesing in Australia

The wool industry is always on the lookout for the breed which will produce the biggest quantities of wool, like the merino breed. To this aim they have crossbred different breeds of sheep for many years in order to achieve the most skin folds and thus more wool. But more folds is bad for sheep as there is an increase in sweating and in the chances of flies depositing their larvae, which ends up causing infection. (myiasis).

Australia is the main global exporter of wool of the merino breed. In order to beat myiasis they submit the sheep to a cruel practice called “mulesing”. This consists of cutting away the wrinkled skin in the animal's breech (rump area) in order to attract the fly to that area to deposit their larvae, instead of the rest of skin, therefore leaving the wool undamaged. This procedure is performed without any kind of anaesthetic.

 

Our action

  • At FAADA we raise awareness and create educational material about the problems regarding the use of animal hides, furs and feathers.

What can you do?

  • Share what you know about the problems associated with using animal skins and feathers with your friends and family. Tell them about the conditions that those animals have to live in, the suffering they endure and the alternatives available.
  • Never buy clothes or accessories made of leather, fur, etc. As well as any other item (rugs, sofas, etc.) made of animal skin. It is always a good idea to check the label or ask before buying. There are several synthetic alternatives which keep you warm at cold temperatures, and they are lightweight and don’t involve the unjust killing of animals.
  • Read the labels of products with leather trimmings. If it does not state clearly its origin and you cannot be sure, don’t buy it. Don’t think that just because it is cheap it will be synthetic. The sales staff always know whether or not the leather or fur is real, ask them - to be on the safe side.
  • Demand leather shops to stop selling leather, or at least separate authentic leather products from the synthetic leather ones, and clearly state its origin.
  • If you receive catalogues from companies selling leather and fur goods, express your rejection politely but clearly.
  • If you have leather or fur products, take them to an animal refuge so that they are used to keep the young warm.

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