Animal Welfare

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Animal welfare is at the heart of every wool grower’s farm. Around the world, wool farmers apply the best available animal husbandry practices to ensure the health of their flocks.

Wool growers are dedicated to the job of looking after their animals and keeping them healthy, to ensure the wool maintains the right qualities for the textile industry.

The Wool Industry's Commitment

Wool is increasingly seen by consumers as a sustainable lifestyle choice for fashion and interior textiles. Transparency in each step of the wool textile pipeline is essential, and it begins on farm. The global wool industry is committed to the highest standards of sheep care and well-being. 

Cruelty to animals in the wool growing countries of the world is a very serious crime. Tolerance in the wool trade of anyone suspected of abuse is, and always has been, zero.

Over 500 companies working in wool, representing more than one million people employed by the industry, affirmed their commitment to the highest standards of welfare by signing the Dumfries House Declaration of September 2016. The Declaration sets forth the principles of best practice in the wool industry. See for more details and to sign the Declaration.

Campaign for Wool and IWTO Joint Statement in Response to Article in The Guardian (25 September 2017) 

IWTO Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare

IWTO's Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare were developed by our wool growing country members. Premised on the "Five Freedoms" of the OIE's Terrestrial Animal Health Code, the Specifications reflect the diversity of wool production systems as well as the national legislative animal welfare frameworks of each wool growing country.

Each wool growing country has its own legally binding animal welfare legislation. Best practice is defined within each country based on country-specific production systems and the wool sheep breeds of each country as well as universal principles of ethical wool production.

The IWTO Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare provide concise guidance on best practices for wool sheep husbandry, along with the national animal welfare laws of each of the main wool growing countries, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.

In addition, the document contains an overview of the global wool sheep industry and a description of legislative frameworks governing wool production.

Wool textile professionals, CSR managers, retailers and consumers alike will find this document an accessible resource. 

Click here to view and download the IWTO Specifications for Wool Sheep Welfare.