October 30, 2017 How is Wool Processed? From Sheep to Sheets: Stage 2 We’ve been exploring the process of wool, from the pastures to the finished product, to help you gain a better understanding of the wool we use to make our organic bedding products. All of our wool is processed at Woolgatherer Carding Mill, located just down the road from us in Montague, California. Thanks to this wonderful company, we’re able to create some of the finest wool products in the world! Previously we discussed the first stage of wool processing: Selecting Wool Growers. Today we are exploring the second stage… Shearing Shearing is the act of harvesting wool fleece from a sheep. The wool fiber is a hardened protein, and does not contain any sensory structures. This is generally done in the spring when the sheep no longer need their winter coat. Annual shearing benefits both the sheep as well as us humans. Shearing in the spring allows the sheep to begin growing their wool in time to have a full coat by winter. Without shearing, the animal may potentially suffer from excessive wool growth. Too much wool may result in manure or feces accumulating on the wool and encouraging fly egg development. The resulting fly larvae can cause serious harm to the animal and potentially death through infection. Additionally, too much wool can contribute to heat stress in warmer climates. Spring shearing also prepares the sheep to have at least 1 inch of wool on their coats in the summer. Having a bit of wool on the sheep in the summer, rather than none at all, allows the wool fiber to dissipate heat more quickly. Read more about how wool is able to regulate temperature. Cruelty-Free Wool Processing Shearing quickly and without cutting the sheep is a skill that takes practice. Woolgatherer works with the most skilled shearing teams to make sure that shearing goes smoothly. Both Woolgatherer and Shepherd’s Dream strongly oppose harmful shearing and mulesing. Mulesing involves cutting off patches of the skin off sheep (to discourage infection resulting from flies laying eggs in the folds). This cruel practice is primarily associated with Australian Merino sheep. Learn more about the philosophy and mission we do support. Stay tuned for the next stage of wool processing.