Some people use sheep for wool, even though they’re sensitive, smart animals who love their families. They’re all about teamwork, and they hang out in groups called “flocks.” If threatened, a flock of sheep will run together for a short distance, then turn to face the danger as a group. Flockmates care for each other, and sheep can recognize their friends’ faces even after having been separated for years!
Just like dogs, humans, and many other animals, sheep make different sounds to communicate. They are also affectionate and even wag their tails when they get excited. They have excellent vision—it’s very hard to sneak up on a sheep because they can see 270 degrees around without even turning their heads! That’s more than humans can see. Fun fact: When sheep sense danger, they walk backward so they can keep an even closer eye on the threat.
Sheep are gentle individuals who, like all other animals, feel pain, fear, and loneliness. But because people want to buy their fleece, the wool industry treats them like wool-producing machines. When they’re not caused to grow large amounts of wool and shorn, sheep grow just the amount of wool they need. It gives them good insulation against both cold and heat!
© Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
To try to keep flies away, workers on farms often cut some of the skin off sheep’s backsides without giving them any pain medicine. This is called “mulesing.” They have to hold the lambs down, because it’s a very painful and bloody.
Workers on farms often punch holes in the sheep’s ears and cut parts of their tails off, too—both without painkillers.
No human needs to wear wool. Ask your grownup to check the labels on clothing and shoes before buying them to make sure your family never supports the wool industry. Tell them and your friends that it’s easy to find wool-free items everywhere and that they’re usually more affordable. Going wool-free is a great deal for everyone, especially sheep!