by Daelyn Fortney
Categories: Fashion
Tags: .
Photo: cc: flickr.com/photos/shallowend24401

wool

In an effort to increase the price of wool worldwide, Prince Charles has announced the Wool Project, an initiative to revitalize the industry and promote wool as a sustainable, eco-friendly material. Prince Charles hopes to establish a new green label for woolen goods and is counting on British High Street shops to champion the products. The initiative would include Wool Week which will take place before London’s Fashion Week in September and be used to promote wool as a fashionable option for winter wardrobes.

Over the years, wool has fallen out of fashion and the price has dropped drastically. The Prince hopes his efforts will increase the popularity of the product for use in clothing and rugs.

“The future of the fiber was looking very bleak indeed,” said Prince Charles. “The sad truth is that around the world farmers are leaving sheep production because the price they get for their wool is below the costs of actually shearing it.

“The wool industry is truly international and I am glad that the Wool Project is now a partnership that includes the wool-growing organizations of Australia, Britain, and New Zealand.”

Unfortunately the Prince of Wales is getting into a business which has been deemed cruel by animal welfare advocates worldwide.

When one thinks of sheep, visions of Mary and her snow white fleeced creature may come to mind. After arriving home from school one day, Mary notices the Little Lamb needs a haircut, so the dutiful owner takes her electric wool shears (with noise reducer, of course) and clips away excess wool. Mary, who learned to spin wool into yarn from videos on YouTube, makes a beautiful sweater for the teacher who knew how much the young girl loved her lamb.

Juxtaposed against reality, it really is a sweet picture. The truth however, lends a very different picture to the wool production industry. Speaking from an animal well-being standpoint, wool is considered a cruel product with the practice of mulesing at the forefront of the controversy.

Flystrike is a major problem for sheep especially in Australia which produces 25-30% of the world’s wool. Attracted to moisture that has collected in the folds of a sheep’s skin, flies lay eggs in the wrinkles. The eggs hatch into larvae which feed on the sheep’s tissue causing inflammation, toxemia, and death.

In order to prevent Flystrike infestations farmers in Australia implemented the mulesing procedure which involves cutting crescent-shaped chunks of skin from each side of the animal’s rump. [see picture here] The surgical procedure performed with metal shears is often done without anesthesia, antiseptics, or pain killers. It is standard practice to do the operation simultaneously with other procedures such as tail docking and castration.

Mulesing is illegal in other countries where alternatives have been established to fight incidents of Flystrike.

In 2004, after international pressure, the Australian wool industry agreed to phase out mulesing by the end of 2010.  However in July of 2009, industry leaders reneged on the agreement claiming alternatives were not sufficiently developed. Instead, half of the 20-30 million mulesed lambs now have topical analgesia sprayed on the wound. The relief lasts only 8 hours. Studies show that sheep endure pain from the procedure for at least 3 weeks.

In addition to the painful mutilation endured by flocks in Australia, sheep in the wool industry worldwide are subject to unnatural breeding, rough handling during shearing and, for those not producing enough wool, an imminent trip to the slaughterhouse.

As with any industry that depends on the mass production of an animal product, wool production is a brutish business that has been riddled with controversy. It is to be expected that international animal welfare agencies will keep close eye on Prince Charles and his plan to increase the popularity of the fiber.

  • Jae

    You guys sound more and more like a press release from PeTA.
    Please get your facts straight and stop being an echo chamber for the animal protest industry!
    There are so many errors in here it’s not worth correcting.
    Start sourcing your facts a little more widely than the commercial protest sector.

    • Dgredy

      Since you know so much y can u tell us where is the author of the article wrong!!! i think you dont know what u r talking about.. you really have no idea im sure u have a pair of uggs in every color. it is so true what happents to the lams.. no animal bussines is humane once you have a man mass producing a product made from animals any humane handle goes out the window. all this people care is about money and the more they make and the least the have to use to make sure the animals have a ok life the better. and how about i cut a chunk of skin form your butt and will see if it hurts

  • Caleb

    Please enlighten us all with your “facts”. I have researched the industry extensively and believe me this is sugar coated at best. Do you honestly believe in a mass produced industry like the wool industry that everything is like Mary had a little lamb?! Please, pull of the blinders.

    This article didn’t even address the mass transport of sheep our of Australia to other countries – is this included in your “facts”?

    If you (Jae) come on just to try to discredit an article for whatever reason you have I would be prepared to give a bit more detail then slinging wild accusation about fact checking.

    • Dgredy

      im with you!!! im sorry but jae is an idiot i already told her/him that i would love to cut a chunk of skin from her butt to see if it hurts!!! and i saw a video of this beautiful animals being transported to other countries, it really broke my heart it is so sad

      • Chastity

        Jae is doing nothing but astroturfing and is repeating the same stuff over and over.

  • http://www.megasuits.com/ suit

    what do you want to promote here? the topic seems to run around. the introductory part says support wool project then you inserted your ideas regarding Mulesing. what are you pointing out? please revise. thanks

  • Jeremy

    suit, Prince Charles is supporting the wool trade not the writer. Honestly I didn’t find it that difficult to follow.

    • Dgredy

      hahahaha i know suit needs to get!! and btw prince charles sucks doesnt he love fox hunting?

  • WOOLIE

    PEOPLE NEED JOBS. WE HAVE BEEN SPINNING AND WEAVING FOR 5,000 YEARS…

    • Chastity

      Yes and livelihoods change. Why must you mourn over the loss of money? Shouldn’t you be mourning over the sheep that you are killing? But wait, money is so much more important than #4653654.

      • Frida

        As far as I know, using the wool from a sheep has never killed it. On the contrary, the sheeps that have been domesticated have lost their natural ability to shed their wool and therefor needs a human to cut it of. Or else it will be in risk of ding.
        All sheeps, no matter if it’s actually kept for it’s wool or for something else, like for the meat, for company or to graze, needs their wool to be cut. A lot of this wool is simply thrown away, cause the pay for it is so low, that is a HUGE waste of resources.

    • http://vegan--japan.blogspot.com/ herwin

      wow, 5000 years is a long time, bro, time for a break i would say.

      • http://www.fullmoonloom.com Bedspreads

        yes, money are so much more important ! What would you do with all the sheeps, cattles, horses etc etc in about 20 years ?

  • Frida

    First of all, I believe the problem with flystrike is most common with merino sheeps, which is just one of many breeds of sheeps. Merino wool is very popular cause they have finer fibers and therefore doesn’t itch. It’s entirely possible to produce quality wool from sheeps without the flystrike problem.
    Isn’t Prince Charles objective to make breeding sheeps more profitable, a big problem with most animal breeding is the fact that the consumers are demanding lower and lower prices on meat and other animal products. You need a certain amount of money to take good care of your animals. I’m sure a big part of the people who have stopped breeding sheeps have done it cause they couldn’t provide good enough care for their animals with the pay they were getting.
    The alternative to using wool (we do need a fibre that can keep us warm in the winters) is to use synthetics and synthetics will always be made from oil and can never be truly renewable. The problems with breeding sheeps seems small in comparison with the ones with synthetics cause they can actually be fixed.
    I do hope that no one thinks I’m advocating treating any animals badly, I have just never understood why breeding animals must equal treating them bad.

  • Chastity

    This article is so greenwashed, it’s not even funny. Let’s dispel the myths of “sustainable”, “eco friendly” and “humane” please. It’s frustrating to see people justify their usage of animals (“but I treated it well!”). Animal slavery is a huge problem that needs to stop.

    • http://www.ecorazzi.com Michael d'Estries

      Chastity,

      Please explain why the article is “greenwashed”. Instead of blindly supporting Prince Charles’ effort to encourage wool production, it actually talks about why that may not be such a great idea for animals. Seems pretty balanced to me.

  • http://www.megasuits.com/ suit

    eco friendly by killing animals? duh… thus promoting flystrike. this article gives headaches.. why do promote eco-friendly clothing by killing animals? isn’t thus an animal abuse? this should be banned!