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Healthy Land, Healthy Wool

Healthy farms

The New Zealand sheep industry is one of the world's 'greenest' farming systems.

Sheep graze on pastures which rely mainly on clovers to naturally supply nitrogen to grasses, which are the main animal feed. Feed antibiotics and growth hormones are not used.

Natural insect predators, instead of agrichemicals, are increasingly being used to control pasture weeds, pests and diseases. New Zealand has the second lowest level of agrichemical use per farmed hectare of any developed country - one fiftieth of Japanese levels.

Wool production does not compete with food production, as sheep produce meat for eating and fibre for textiles, grazing on land that is usually unsuitable for the intensive production of food crops.

Healthy wool

For animal welfare reasons, farmers need to treat their flocks with medicines that protect them from parasite attack. Drenches are used to control internal parasites. Insecticidal 'dips' are used to prevent attack by strike flies and lice .

The compounds used are only those which are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Union. The use of organo-chlorines is prohibited.

Since 1993, New Zealand's already low dip residue levels in raw wool have been cut in half. Dip residues in scoured wool - the main form in which NZ wool is exported - are at trace levels, or below the limits of measurement technology.

The scouring process used to wash New Zealand wool is highly energy- and water-efficient. The Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand (WRONZ) is a world leader in the development of environmentally sound scouring technologies.

Healthy living

Due to their high acid-fixing potential, woollen carpets and furnishings made from New Zealand wool continually purify indoor air for up to 30 years. Once they are fixed into the wool fibre, common indoor air contaminants like nitrous and sulphur dioxides and formaldehyde become inert and harmless.

At the end of their useful life, products made from wool are recyclable. Waste from woollen mills is biodegradable and is used in agriculture as a natural nitrogen fertiliser.

 

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