Merino wool is soft; temperature-regulating; repels water and dirt particles; anti-static; doesn’t pill; and, finally, it holds properties which eliminate odors instead of holding onto them. It’s safe to say that Merino wool is a real all-star. In addition to these properties - which make it more comfortable than other types of wool - Merino wool is also 100% natural and sustainable.
Let's face it, who doesn't want cuddly merino clothes?
But unfortunately, there is also a dark side to Merino wool: mulesing.
Mulesing is a practice in which skin is removed from the rear of the Merino sheep - without anesthetization - in order to prevent flies from laying their larvae on the sheep. When sheep become infested with these maggots, they can fall ill with severe infections which can even lead to the sheep’s death. When a sheep has undergone the mulesing process, its rear becomes scarred and smooth, upon which insects are unable to burrow. This method is mainly still practiced in Australia (and occasionally in New Zealand) since these are the locations where this special type of fly exists.
Many of you are probably wondering:
Farmers and researchers are working together to find alternatives, such as using insecticides or shearing sheeps’ rear multiple times. These alternatives do, however, present significant time and financial burdens to farmers.
In the meantime, a portion of sheep breeders in Australia are using anesthesia or pain-managing drugs during the mulesing process.
The breeding of less-efficient types of sheep could be a long term alternative. These different types of sheep still produce wool but have fewer folds in their skin, which means that they are less frequently plagued by insect infestation.
There is a better - albeit more expensive - alternative. In countries and regions such as Uruguay or Patagonia, this type of fly infestation doesn’t exist. This means that this wool is mulesing-free from the beginning to the end. For us as a company, animal protection is an important, central theme: that’s why in our products, we use high-quality Merino wool from farms in Uruguay. Furthermore, we hold high standards when it comes to the way the sheep are treated - standards which are continually tested and checked.
In order to go one step further, we have contracts with each of our cooperations partners which guarantee that the wool we source is mulesing free.
The GIESSWEIN story began in 1954 in Grandma Elisabeth's living room. Read on to discover how the modern Merino Runners started as a simple Norwegian sweater.