Where does the wool go after it is taken off the sheep?

That very much depends on a lot of different factors.

In wild sheep or domesticated self-moulting sheep, the fleece may just lie there and decompose, unless taken by another animal or bird for burrows or nests.

If the sheep is a meat sheep, the fleece is usually of very low quality. Occasionally, it can be sold as insulation material or for industrial carpeting, but it is quite often just dumped and allowed to decompose.

Better-quality fleece can be made into high-quality carpeting, upholstery and soft furnishings; clothing; or yarn for fibre arts – knitting, weaving, etc. In some countries, there is a central processing board to which all such fleece must be sold (e.g., British Wool, in the UK), in others there may be competing processers to which farmers can sell fleece.

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Why would a vegan be opposed to wearing wool when sheep need to be sheared?

Because vegans lack common sense, and have no understanding of the natural world.

Their existence is only possible in a post-scarcity Western society, where there are lots of vegan alternatives which are only available by raping and bankrupting developing nations for their avocado toast, cutting down rainforest to grow their monoculture soybeans, and destroying and polluting the environment for their cotton clothing and ocean-destroying plastic ‘leather’.

They need to spend a year or two living on locally-sourced turnips and wearing nettles to knock some damned sense into them.

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Why don’t goats produce wool the way sheep do?

Strictly speaking?

Because goats produce their own spinnable fibre – notably the Cashmere goat breeds and the Angora goat, which produce cashmere and mohair respectively. Yes, mohair – not angora, which is produced by the Angora rabbit.

Historically, or rather paleoagriculturally, sheep appear to have been bred primarily for their wool, whereas goats seem to have been bred primarily for milk, although there are such things as milk sheep and, clearly, fibre goats. I can only hazard a guess that the primitive sheep domesticated by our ancestors must have produced more fibre than goats did*, and/or that primitive domesticated goats had more milk or were easier to milk than sheep

Milk goat

Milk sheep.

Yep, definitely easier to milk the goat.


* – The Jacob sheep, a relatively primitive breed, produces about 2–3kg fleece, whereas (modern) Cashmere goats produce only 1kg.

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How much wool do you get from shearing one sheep?

It depends on the breed. Some breeds have none at all, others can produce as much as 4–6kg of fleece.

However, the process of turning fleece into wool for making fabrics is lossy: generally, only about 50% of a fleece by weight gets made into wool.

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Does shearing a sheep’s wool hurt the sheep in any way? If it did hurt the sheep, could you just “trim” the wool instead of taking it all off?

No. It’s like you getting a haircut.

Trimming is the same as cutting, in hair terms – except less hair is removed. Trimming wool does not help the sheep; it leaves most of the wool in place which is uncomfortable and unhealthy. In addition, the trimmed wool ends would be too short to have any commercial value and would end up in landfill. As wool flocks would no longer have any commercial value, thousands of sheep farmers would go out of business and their flocks would be slaughtered. Those industries dependent on sheep wool would have to turn instead to synthetic alternatives which are very damaging to the environment.

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How do I store wool for a long period?

The main issue with storing wool is making certain that moths don’t get at it. Wool can survive almost anything else.

The best method is sealing it in something airtight. This might be some kind of sealable plastic box, or vacuum bags – the kind that you suck the air out of with your vacuum cleaner. NB: the vacuum method may leave the wool flat and crinkled, but you can restore it by steaming it for a few hours. Place the wool in your freezer for a few days before storage: this should kill off any moth eggs that might inadvertently have got into it (this also works for wool garments that have been infested with moth larva).

However, if you mean raw wool, just off the sheep, don’t seal it in plastic: that will just allow it to stew in the sweat and grease. Might not harm the wool, but no one will want to touch it afterwards. Raw wool should be scoured – cleaned – before long-term storage, and placed in an air-permeable bag – hessian, cotton, or hemp is good, or failing that an open plastic bag – if you’re just taking it to be scoured.

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