Factory-farmed wool exposed in Swedish press

Factory-farmed wool exposed in Swedish press
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PUBLISHED ON: 29 February 2008

The Swedish newspaper, Metro, this week printed an expose on one of Australia's cruellest industries—'ultra-fine' wool. This industry, which factory farms sheep, produces the 'luxury' wool to supply an 'elite' international market for exclusive tuxedos and high end fashion houses.

No 'luxury' however is afforded to the animals involved. The 'shedded' sheep are forced to wear a nylon coat over their fleece and are confined 24 hours a day in tiny, barren pens for up to 5 years. Despite being a herd animal, they are often confined alone. Denied the freedom to express even their most basic natural instincts, such as grazing, they rock back and forth, chewing incessantly on the wire and wooden slats of their pen, often to the point that the slats require replacement.

Animals Australia investigators have visited The Wool Factory, a major 'ultra-fine' wool producer in Horsham, Victoria.  Photos from this facility were published in Metro, shocking many Swedes. The Wool Factory has refused Department of Primary Industry requests to install a camera to monitor animal welfare concerns raised by Animals Australia and the RSPCA. The video footage obtained by Animals Australia shows exactly why this cruel facility has refused official surveillance of their activities.

Metro identified the Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna as one buyer and a major supporter of the industry (Horsham’s Wool Factory has won Zegna’s international award), and went on to say that several Swedish stores, including Menswear, Hans Allde and NK also sold products made from Australian 'ultra-fine' wool. Birgitta Carlsson, a spokesperson for the animal protection organisation Djurens Rätt, urged readers to boycott 'ultra-fine' wool and the companies that sell it.

Metro's article has stirred up debate in Sweden over this industry, with an NK spokesperson saying that they were unaware of the conditions the animals were kept in and will now take up their concerns with their suppliers and put together an animal welfare policy. The Swedish Board of Agriculture also criticised the industry saying that herd animals should not be kept in solitary confinement.

NB: In Australia Ermengildo Zegna has stores in most capital cities and its range is also available in David Jones.

What you can do:

Are you outraged by this industry? Send a letter to key Australian newspapers and have your voice heard. Use the following key points to write a letter to be sent to , Herald Sun and Mail Times.

Key Points:

  • I am writing regarding an article published this week in the Swedish paper, Metro, about Australia's 'ultra-fine' wool industry.
  • Confining sheep in tiny indoor pens so that they are unable to exercise, graze or perform natural behaviours is cruel—and to do so in the name of fashion is completely unacceptable.
  • The industry is an embarrassment to Australia's international reputation.
  • Unless Australia wants to be recognised as a world leader in animal cruelty, regulations should be established that do not allow such a cruel industry to continue.
  • I will not purchase products from companies whilst they sell 'ultra-fine' wool products.

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