A sheepskin is a sheep’s skin (funny that) and has come from an animal that has been slaughtered, usually for meat.
Dartmoor sheepskins, indeed nearly all sheepskins, are procured this way.
Sheepskins are a byproduct of the meat industry and have no real value until they are tanned.
Fewer than 1 in 200 sheepskins are tanned (0.045%), the rest are dealt with as waste.
No sheep are slaughtered specifically for their skin.
How many sheep does it take to make a sheepskin? Just one, although some companies stitch portions together (we don’t).
Are sheepskins ethical?
Your call. Only you can decide whether sheepskins are ethical, but we are currently destroying millions of them. In the UK alone 15 million sheepskins are burned or buried each year. Less than two decades ago wool was the primary reason for farming sheep here, now it’s meat. The ratio changed as recently as 2001. The UK currently farms a lot more sheep to eat.
Whilst I argue that there is a strong environmental case for using sheepskin (and as such an ethical case), it cannot be said that buying sheepskin will help the sheep themselves in any direct way. Sheepskins are indifferent to the lives of sheep. Save for one simple fact: The best sheepskin will have never been near barbed wire. Sheep like being outdoors on grass.
On Dartmoor, sheep roam a landscape they helped create.
Almost all British sheep live outdoors – receiving exceptional care. On top of this, Dartmoor sheep live in an open landscape. Barbed wire does not make for good sheepskin, so it’s good that they have to deal with so little of it.
Herdwick Sheep | Heritage Breed
Sheepskins are as eco as your regular laundry
They can be washed and dried using your regular wash, like a quality pair of jeans (this is how). During the wash, sheepskin sheds fewer hair fragments than man-made fabrics. The fibers that it does shed are harmless and will completely biodegrade.
Crafted to last a lifetime – sheepskin is not a throw away item, neither is it delicate or precious. It will last for as long as you store it dry. Use sheepskin outdoors or in, just wash, and store dry.
Are sheepskins ethical? You must decide for yourself if sheepskins are ethical. We think so, and so do our friends and customers. Having said this, even some meat eaters feel squeamish about such an overt animal product as a sheepskin. If that’s you, we hope there’s no hard feelings.