Icebreaker say they can trace the merino to a particular station (baacode). I guess this is about the practice of mulesing. Icebreaker merino wool comes from the high country of the South Island of New Zealand where mulesing is not practised.
In Australia, the sheep are readily affected by flystrike (where maggots burrow into living flesh around the bum after hatching). Because of this, mulesing is often performed on the sheep. This involves skinning the upper layer of skin, taking the wool and leaving a clear surface of scarring to deter flystrike. It is not done under a local anesthetic as far as I know and is considered inhumane by some sections of society. Farmers say it is less humane than flystrike.
My response would be that if a sheep has to undergo this ordeal then either stop merino farming in those areas especially with the low profit margins of wool currently or do the flaying under a local anesthetic. Fortunately New Zealand sourced merino (as in Icebreaker) doesn't have this issue.
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