The difference between conventional wool and wool from organically raised sheep

Organic  sheep  husbandry   requires  a  special  attitude  towards  animals  and  the  work required   in   raising  them.   Organic   farmers   have  set  their   priorities   on  appropriate conditions   for  animals  and  healthy  husbandry   procedures   rather  than  on  maximum profits.  They  are willing  to work  harder  in order  to give  their  animals  better  lives  and obtain better quality wool. What this means in  detail:


The  choice  of  breed  is  the  first  significant  difference.   Depending  on  their  production goals,   conventional   farmers   usually  raise  high-performance   special  breeds  or  cross- breeds.  In  contrast,  only those animals  raised on organic farms are permitted  in  certified organic  farming.   If possible,   robust  and  endangered   livestock  breeds  are  selected  in order to encourage  breed diversity.


In  terms  of animal  husbandry,  conventional   sheep  farming  requires  nothing  more than compliance  with the husbandry  regulations  laid down in  animal  protection  laws. Organic farming,  on the  other  hand,  has special  husbandry  regulations  in effect  to ensure  the animals’   well-being.   Examples   of  species-appropriate    animal   husbandry   conditions include  lower population  densities,   larger stalls   and a ban on tethered  housing.  Organic sheep  are  also  allowed  to  keep  their  horns  and  tails.   They  are  shorn  individually, causing   much   less   stress   to  the   animals   than   the   automated   systems   used   in conventional  shearing  operations.


In  conventional   sheep  husbandry,   the  animals  are  given  regular  pesticide   baths  to prevent  parasites.  The shepherds,  processing  workers  and naturally  the sheep  as well are exposed  to chemical  pesticides  as a result of this treatment.  Agents  used  include phosphates  and  pyrethroids,  both  of which  are  neurotoxins.   Residue  from  these  anti- parasitic  treatments  can still be found  in the wool. Animals  kept in  mass conditions  are subject  to  especially   severe  parasitic   infections.   Organic  farmers   choose  instead  to maintain small,   robust herds on sufficiently  large pastures  in order to reduce parasites.


In  addition  to the ecological  and social  aspects  of the textile  industry,   animal  protection is   a   further   consideration   in  sheep  farming.   In  Australia,   for  example,   Merinos  are brutally  cut in the anal area –  without  anaesthesia  or subsequent  wound  treatment  –  in order  to  protect  them  from  blowfly  strike.   Animal  rights  activists  are  of  course  up  in arms. The procedure  can only be performed  in   organically  raised  sheep  in  exceptional cases when no other methods  have proven effective.