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Top 10 Reasons Not to Wear Wool

Top 10 Reasons Not to Wear Wool
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Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, brought back by popular demand. It was originally published on June 5, 2013. Enjoy!

You probably wouldn’t have thought that the woolly jumper you’re wearing or those Ugg boots you love so much could be the cause of so much cruelty and suffering.

The truth is, there is a much darker side to the wool industry than you may have ever imagined, and no amount of fluff can hide the abhorrently cruel and bloody practices that millions of sheep have to endure every day.

Here are the top ten reasons why you should boycott wool and opt for a cruelty free alternative instead:

1. Sheep don’t need to be shorn. Through no fault of our own, we are mistakenly led to believe that ‘sheep need to be shorn.’ The reality is much more complicated. Sheep naturally produce only the amount of wool they need to protect themselves from extreme weather conditions. It is due to genetic engineering and the manipulation of the sheep’s wool production that we have left these defenseless animals dependent on human interference.

2. Mulesing. Half of the world’s Merino wool comes from Australia, where sheep are specifically bred to have wrinkled skin in order to increase wool production. This wrinkled skin is prone to flystrike due to the accumulation of excess moisture and urine. Flystrike is a painful condition in which flies lay eggs in the folds of the skin and the hatched maggots eat the sheep alive. The wool industry’s solution? Cutting off huge pieces of skin from the area around the tail and back of the legs, producing smoother, scarred skin that doesn’t harbor fly eggs. This barbaric practice is usually performed without anesthesia and causes a great deal of distress to the animal, and in many cases the bloody, untreated wounds often get flystrike before they have healed.

3. The wool industry is riddled with death and disease. To give you a better idea, ten million lambs die every year before they are more than a few days old in Australia alone. Why? Flocks usually consist of thousands, making it impossible to give proper care and attention to individual sheep. Rather than reduce the number of sheep in an effort to better maintain them, sheep are bred to bear more lambs to offset the deaths.

4. An estimated 1 million sheep die from exposure. Sheep have to be sheared in the spring before they naturally shed their winter coats. Shearing too late means a loss of wool, so subsequently they are sheared while it is still too cold, leaving them vulnerable and at risk of death from exposure due to premature shearing.

5. Sheep shearers are paid by the volume. The majority of sheep shearers are paid by the volume, as opposed to by the hour, encouraging fast work without regard for the welfare of the sheep. This results in rough handling and injury during the process.

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Photo Credit: EssjayNZ

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1:53AM PDT on Apr 11, 2014

Interesting comment, Rosemary H concerning the BBC show about lambing. I agree, for writers with a vegan agenda, only the worse case scenarios are explored while ignoring farms that treat animals humanely. Some with agendas see things only in terms of black and white with alternative options totally ignored. Not everything is factory farming.

8:36PM PDT on Mar 29, 2014

Abigail learn a little more about the Australian wool industry and don''t go off half cocked.Investigate more before you criticize.

5:59AM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

thank you for sharing

2:44PM PDT on Mar 25, 2014

How many people watched 'Lambing Live' tonight on BBC (2? I think) I didn't see all of it but I did notice a completely different attitude to the sheep.

That wouldn't suit C2! Never let facts get in the way of the Vegan Agenda!

1:00PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

To all those who added to the discussion on sheep, especially mulesing, may I just say "Thank you". I would have written more but as you can see, I ran out of space.

12:12PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

And another point...

A few weeks ago one of my neighbour's ewes was having a difficult time lambing. So what did he do? Took her to the vet for a caesarean, where she was safely delivered of triplets. And he didn't grumble about the bill.

It doesn't fit the C2 account, does it?

12:09PM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

Green star to Jennifer W for this!

"did you know that badly treated sheep / stressed sheep grow bad wool which does not sell? It's in farmers best interests to have free-roaming, well cared for sheep... "

It's obvious when you think about it.

Why has C2 resurrected this silly, biased, inaccurate article, instead of getting someone to write a better one? Because of the vegan agenda!

3:16AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

Oh... and sheep DO need to be shorn! Perhaps their wild ancestors did, but not shearing is not an option! One sheep in NZ evaded capture for 5 years (I think) and had almost 30kg of wool fleece on his body, you're telling me that he could have survived much longer, no, I don't think so! Goofle 'Big Ben New Zealand'

3:05AM PDT on Mar 24, 2014

Wow read the comments people, can't believe how inaccurate this is! People keep going on about Mulesing... IT DOESN'T HAPPEN ANY MORE and hasn't for many years! Do your research!

Also did you know that badly treated sheep / stressed sheep grow bad wool which does not sell? It's in farmers best interests to have free-roaming, well cared for sheep... Go and speak to a real wool grower and see for yourselves instead of reading this rubbish and believing everything that's posted online!

9:47AM PDT on Mar 23, 2014

I know there are a lot of people out there who would disagree with me but I think there's a lot of sheep farmers who treat their sheep very well. I was one of them, even though I only owned two sheep. They got the best of care.
As far as not wearing wool, I live in the North country and believe me, we wear wool up here. A lot of the synthetic fabrics simply wouldn't keep you warm enough.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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Colleen H. Colleen H. is an Online Campaigner with Care2 and a recent transplant to San Francisco from the East... more
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