The difference between
Organic & Non-Organic Sheep Farming
What you should know
At The House of Pillows, all our wool is 100% certified Organic, from sheep which were organically farmed in compliance with organic rules of farming. In this post, we are going to go over how organic sheep are treated and farmed responsibly, and thus explain why we only use wool from organically raised sheep.
To raise organic sheep, the farm must be registered with an approved organic control body. These control bodies each require a detailed set of standards to be followed. Here are some of those key standards:
From Non-Organic, to Organic
It takes a minimum of two years to convert a sheep farm to organic status. The breeding livestock must then be managed organically from tupping (reproduction) time for their lambs to be classified as organic. Lambs sold as organic must have come from fully converted land at the time of sale.
The Challenges for the Farmers
Prohibited from using synthetic chemical wormers and antibiotics, organic producers must use other methods to deal with internal parasites and disease.
Proper pasture rotation, breed selection, intermediate host control and manure management can all contribute to the goal of parasite reduction. Internal parasite control is considered the main obstacle to organically produced lamb.
More Respect For The Animals
Organic Sheep Farms have larger stalls for the animals, and are often kept on large pastures.
Organic Sheep are also allowed to keep their horns and tails, which many non-organic sheep farms usually remove, thus causing extra pain for the animals.
Organic sheep are shorn individually, causing much less stress to the animals than the industrially automated systems used in conventional shearing operations.
Better Housing Conditions
The organic sheep are usually kept on large grass pastures.
When housed, organic Sheep must be provided with a comfortable, dry bedded laying area. Loose housing that is well bedded is preferred. 1.5 m2 should be allowed for each ewe with an additional 0.35 m2 for each lamb.
Although slats or wire mesh floors can be used they must not exceed one half of the floor area available to each group of stock.
Feeding Organic Sheep
Organic Sheep are fed with feeds free from Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs).
Bottle-raised lambs are fed organically produced milk. The organically produced feed on organic farms doesn’t contain : hormones, antibiotics, other prohibited growth promoters, plastic pellets for roughage, manure refeeding, mammalian or poultry animal by-products, urea or any materials listed on the national prohibited materials list.
Pastures or field units shall be certified organically maintained.
No chemical fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides or other restricted materials. Synthetic vitamin and mineral supplements can be used when organically produced are not available AND nutritional deficiency is documented. Antibiotics or synthetic medication (other than vaccinations) are not allowed.
The organic sheep feed is usually composed of pasture grass, and the rest is organically produced on the same farm where the sheep are farmed.
Thus, the farmers have full control of the food they give to their sheep, and are sure it’s 100% organic.
Farmers also have the choice to procure the feed from other organic farms, but most choose to grow the food themselves to save on costs, as organic feed companies can be scarce and expensive.
Organic Sheep Health plan, cruelty free
A detailed animal health plan must be drawn up, preferably in conjunction with a veterinary surgeon, to show how the production system will be developed to promote good health, and become less dependent on veterinary medicines.
Preventative management is always encouraged, but any problems must always be dealt with promptly. The use of homoeopathic remedies is very encouraged.
Veterinary medicines and antibiotics must not be used as a preventative medicine on a routine basis but should be used to prevent distress in the event of illness or injury.
Worm control is achieved through careful grazing management practices to minimise exposure to infection.
In some countries, Merino Sheep are brutally cut in the anal area – without anaesthesia or subsequent wound treatment – in order to protect them from blowfly strike (a serious disease which seep are susceptible to). Animal rights activists are of course up in arms.
The procedure can only be performed in organically raised sheep in exceptional cases when no other methods have proven effective.
No Exposure to Pesticides
In conventional sheep farming, the animals are given regular pesticide “baths” to prevent parasites.
The shepherds, processing workers and naturally the sheep as well are exposed to chemical pesticides as a result of this treatment.
Agents used include phosphates and pyrethroids, both of which are neurotoxins. Residue from these anti- parasitic treatments can still be found in the wool.
Animals kept in mass conditions are subject to especially severe parasitic infections.
Organic farmers choose instead to maintain small, robust herds on sufficiently large pastures in order to reduce parasites.
Organic Sheep Farming:
Better For Everyone
Organic Sheep Farming poses challenges for farmers, who don’t have the choice of using chemicals, pesticides or antibiotics for raising their heard, but it also creates countless, long-term benefits.
For starters, on an ethical level, the sheep are much, much more respected and are taken care of on a humain level.
This is extremely important for maintaining a long line of healthy and happy sheep, and maintaining good sheep by-product.
Organically grown wool, is completely free of pesticides.
This means that on an organic farm, no nasty chemicals are released into the atmosphere or into the earth, causing much less pollution than regular farming.
Secondly, this also means that the farmers aren’t exposed to the pesticides, which also means better health for the people raising the animals in the first place.
Finally, the organic wool produced is of much higher quality, as it is free from pesticides and chemicals, and thus retains all its beneficial natural properties.
Organic wool is a wonderful gift of nature and well-treated animals. It gives people the ability to sleep in an overall healthier bed and environment.
We couldn’t have more respect for the farmers who provide us with the most high quality, organic wool, as they have given us the opportunity to make amazingly healthy and comfortable wool bedding products for all the people out there who are looking for a better night’s sleep.
We encourage you to join us in supporting organic wool farms, who help make this world a better place, and to share this valuable information of organic farms with all your friends and family.
Together, we can make a difference.
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The Difference between Organic Sheep & Non-Organic Sheep (and why you should love & support our organic lil’ guys)
Cruelty-Free, Luxurious Feeling Bedding
The Zoe Organic Wool Duvet:
100% Organic Wool, from organically raised sheep in Slovenia, processed naturally without use of harsh chemicals, sustainable and cruelty-free.