Daily Mail

Woolly think­ing of the anti-shear­ing ve­g­ans

- Veganism · Food · Belgium · Belarus · Iceland · John Bercow · Wool · Natural Fiber · Clothes Material · House of Lords · Kirkby Lonsdale

eLiSA ALLen, di­rec­tor of Peta (Peo­ple for the eth­i­cal Treat­ment of An­i­mals) has called on the Dorset vil­lage of Wool to change its name to ve­gan Wool (Mail) be­cause it ‘pro­motes cru­elty to sheep’ and wool has been shown to be a ‘prod­uct of extreme cru­elty’. i lec­tured in agri­cul­ture for 25 years in the north of eng­land. i worked on be­half of the Bri­tish Wool Mar­ket­ing Board as an in­struc­tor in sheep shear­ing. i at­tended up­dat­ing ses­sions to en­sure all in­struc­tors up­held the high stan­dards re­quired by the board. i had the priv­i­lege of judg­ing shear­ing com­pe­ti­tions, which at­tracted cham­pion shear­ers from all over the world, so i speak with some author­ity about sheep, un­like the ig­no­rance shown by Ms Allen. if farmers did not shear their sheep, most would shed their wool over a pe­riod of sev­eral weeks. in­stead, the process of shear­ing lasts two to five min­utes and while i ac­cept the sheep ex­pe­ri­ence some stress, it is cer­tainly not ‘extreme cru­elty’. Un­shorn sheep are prone to blow fly at­tack: mag­gots hatch and eat the liv­ing flesh, which is truly hor­rific. not all sheep nat­u­rally lose their wool. i have seen feral sheep liv­ing in forests with sev­eral years of wool growth, which re­sem­bles a car­pet of felt and is ex­tremely dis­tress­ing to the an­i­mal. These are the wel­fare rea­sons for shear­ing sheep. There is, of course, the fi­nan­cial as­pect. His­tor­i­cally, wool was a valu­able source of in­come. it made farmers and the coun­try rich. This can be seen in ar­eas of high sheep den­sity, such as the Cotswolds, where the mag­nif­i­cent churches were funded by the benev­o­lence of wealthy wool pro­duc­ers. in recog­ni­tion of the eco­nomic im­por­tance of sheep to the coun­try, the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords sits on the Wool­sack. How­ever, to­day, the world price for wool has col­lapsed and many farmers find the cost of shear­ing their flock ex­ceeds how much they will get for the fleece and so are out of pocket. But still they con­tinue to clip their flock driven by wel­fare and not profit. i am proud to be as­so­ci­ated with this coun­try’s wool pro­duc­tion.

DAVID JAMES, Port Tal­bot, West Glam­or­gan. iF ve­G­AnS do not wish to use an­i­mal­based metaphors (Mail), that is fine by the rest of us. But if they wish to re­place them with veg­etable al­ter­na­tives, they should be care­ful. ‘Take the bull by the horns’ de­rives from bull-wrestling and sig­ni­fies an ab­so­lute deter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed. if you let go, you were prob­a­bly dead. ‘Grasp the net­tle’ is an ac­cept­able, but weaker al­ter­na­tive. ‘Tak­ing the flower by the thorns’ merely re­sults in a hand full of thorns, as any black­berry picker can tes­tify. ‘Feed­ing two birds with one scone’ goes against ad­vice that we should not give bread prod­ucts to ducks, while ‘feed­ing a fed horse’ will give you a very fat horse and prob­a­bly re­sult in an ac­cu­sa­tion of an­i­mal mis­treat­ment. Also it lacks the ut­ter fu­til­ity of flog­ging a dead one. i have no prac­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ence of catskin­ning, but i al­low there may be more than one method. How­ever, long prac­tice has found only one way to peel a po­tato. even bet­ter, bake them in their skins. i fully ac­cept that to use good arable land just to feed beef cat­tle to make cheap burg­ers is ridicu­lous, but there are many ar­eas where crops won’t grow, but sheep will thrive on the poor grass. Any­one who tried to raise wheat on the slopes of Skid­daw in the Lake District would have some­thing to beef about. or should that be ‘broc­coli’ ?

ALAN COX, Kirkby Lons­dale, Cum­bria.

 ??  ?? Quick trim: Sheep shearer in ac­tion
Quick trim: Sheep shearer in ac­tion

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