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British Wool Statement on Animal Welfare

British Wool takes animal welfare extremely seriously.  While we are not responsible for the enforcement of animal welfare legislation, if we are made aware of any cases of animal mistreatment we will inform the agencies who have such responsibility, (Farm Animal Welfare Council, Defra, Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC) and RSPCA).

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 and its detailed subsidiary guidelines, The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007, prescribe the high animal welfare standards that English farmers are required to meet. Very similar legislation exists for the other UK countries:

Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Wales) Regulations 2007
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (Scotland) Regulations 2010)

We also commissioned a study called ‘Best Management Practices’ to give the industry a comprehensive summary of the husbandry, health and environmental standards under which British Wool is produced.

In global terms, UK sheep farms are small, having on average approximately 350 sheep.  UK sheep are raised naturally outdoors on pasture.  As a result, the scale and method of UK lamb production is such that it is not considered an ‘intensive’ farming activity by animal welfare campaigning bodies.

Sheep are required to be shorn of their wool once a year for their own comfort and health.  Hence, wool is a naturally occurring by-product.  Every year British Wool puts over a thousand people in all parts of the UK through our two day shearing training courses that are tailored to their existing level of experience and skill.  It goes without saying that shearing in accordance with best industry standards ensures that the process is stress free for the animal (as well as maximising the value of producers’ wool). Please visit our Shearing pages for further information.

For further information, please email mail@britishwool.org.uk or telephone 01274 688666.