Animal Welfare

No mulesing

All our sheep are not mulesed.

Safe shearing

Our shearing team is well trained and takes good care of our sheep during shearing.

High animal welfare standards

On all Fuhrmann farms, we adhere to the highest animal welfare standards

We are constantly increasing our animal welfare standards to ensure we always adhere to latest research and best practice. If you want to be updated about our progress, please sign up to our newsletter.

Animal welfare on Fuhrmann managed farms

Wool growers around the world love their sheep and in general take good care of them. The equation is easy: Only happy healthy sheep live longer and grow high-quality wool. Growing more high-quality wool ensures better returns for the wool grower. Also, healthier sheep produce more lambs and perform better in inclement weather conditions and in general. Treating sheep well is not only the right thing to do, but also increases economic returns, which is why animal welfare is of highest importance at Fuhrmann.

However, there are of course discussions around what does it mean to take good care of sheep and opinions, country regulations and even animal welfare standards around the world differ on certain topics.

What wool growers and standards all agree on are the Five Freedoms as defined by the OIE, the International Organisation of Animal Health and adapted into the IWTO Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare. Animal welfare is also regulated in each country, which means wool growers also need to comply with national law in addition to fulfilling specific commercial or private welfare standards. This area is rarely black and white. Difficulty arises in applying the Five Freedoms to everyday operations. Five Freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

There are however certain animal welfare topics that are at the attention of many welfare discussions and that we at Fuhrmann take special care of. Read more below.

Fuhrmann wool is naturally mulesing free

No Mulesing Needed

Mulesing is a practice primarily found today in some parts of Australia where the weather conditions are moist and damp. The blowfly Lucilia cuprina lays its eggs into the skinfolds of a sheep’s rear. Once the eggs hatch the maggots start eating the sheep alive. To prevent this cruelty to the sheep, some of the skin around the rear of the sheep gets cut away once when it is still a little lamb.

While mulesing is there to save sheep, there has been strong criticism from animal rights organisations about this practice and things have already changed to improved sheep welfare in this area. Where possible wool growers in Australia have stopped mulesing on their farm. In areas where sheep are in danger of flystrike due to the natural conditions, more and more wool growers are using methods to make the procedure painless by using pain relief or avoiding it entirely by breeding sheep that don’t have any skin folds which makes mulesing unnecessary. With these efforts, the number of lambs who need to be mulesed is shrinking. If you want to read more about mulesing you find information here.

Countries such as New Zealand and South Africa have already banned the practice in response to concerns for animal welfare. In Patagonia however, there has never been any need for mulesing because the blowfly does not exist in the South of Argentina due to the natural sanitary conditions. The weather here is mostly arid, cool and dry so flies are not a health problem for the sheep. Therefore all our wool, including of course organic wool, is and has always been non-mulesed.

  • The climate in Patagonia is arid

    The climate in most of Patagonia’s pastures is dry and cool so that parasites and bacteria don’t have much to survive on and therefore are not a threat to our sheep.

  • The blow fly does not exist

    Lucilia cuprina, the blow fly, which lays its eggs into the sheep’s skin which cause a life threatening risk to sheep does not exist in Argentina and is therefore no danger to the animals.

  • Mulesing not needed

    Mulesing as an animal welfare practice is not needed in Argentina and therefore not at all practiced by wool growers across the country.

  • Sheep have lots of space

    Sheep in Patagonia graze in extremely low density areas. On average there is 1 sheep on every 1,5 square miles. This low sheep density helps to prevent contagion and adds to the freedom of each sheep.

  • All our sheep and wool are mulesing free

    When you buy organic wool from Fuhrmann in Patagonia you can be 100% sure that it will be mulesing free.

Get an offer from us for the organic wool quality you need with high welfare standards guaranteed

We take good care of our sheep

Shearing

Like most of us go for our regular haircut, sheep need to get their wool sheared off their back at least once per year as well. Like every interaction between animals and humans, shearing also needs to be done very carefully with a great deal of attention.

On our Fuhrmann managed farms, shearing time is one of the very few times sheep leave their pastures. The sheep are managed in a quiet and calm environment to reduce the stress levels for them as much as possible.

All shearers are professionally trained through certified shearing and sorting courses dictated by PROLANA, which is another national wool authority. We often organise PROLANA shearing courses on Fuhrmann managed farms because Fuhrmann is very keen on participating with National Authorities as every initiative helps improving our standards. Having many sheep to shear, Fuhrmann has a well-experienced shearing team which is also informed of the particular attention paid to animal welfare. It is in the shearers interest to treat the sheep calmly as it is then easier to shear the sheep.  All shearers follow the same shearing process which has been proven to be the best for the sheep without needing to tie them up in any way.  It is a methodical system known as tally hi or new pattern developed to do the job easier, faster and with less stress to the animals.

Shearers are very careful to avoid any cuts. However, just like we cut ourselves when we shave our beard or our legs, cuts can happen accidentally.  There are different types of cuts.  Some are small and don’t represent any harm or significant pain to the sheep.  But on very few occasions cuts might need stitching or medical attention. To cite an example, on the most recent shearing of a farm under Fuhrmann´s management, out of 7000 sheep shorn only 2 had to receive stitches due to the type of cut. This represents a 0,0286% of the total animals shorn in this farm.

If a sheep needs stitches, they are performed by someone from the shearing team who is trained and experienced to do this. This is not necessarily a veterinarian although we do tend to have a veterinarian on site at the Fuhrmann farms.  The wounds are also treated with antibiotics and disinfectant.

Fuhrmann´s farm managers who are present all the time pay close attention to the shearing teams performance auditing their progress and taking action when needed. This means that if someone is not working properly or harming the sheep in any way the manager will send this person for a cooling off period, which means they lose shearing time and therefore productivity. This is done so that productivity in shearing is linked also to the welfare of the sheep, not only speed of shearing.

Do you have more questions about our animal welfare practices on farm? Get in contact and we will be happy to answer you any questions you may have. We look forward to hearing from you.

This post is also available in: Spanish