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Are Sheepskins Ethical?

dartmoor sheep in the wild

Are sheepskins ethical? Are sheep slaughtered to make sheepskins?

Of the sheep that we eat in the UK, we tan just 0.45% of the sheepskin – less than one in two hundred. Most sheepskins are regarded as a waste product of the meat industry. It didn’t always used to be this way.

“In 2005 [we ate] 14.1million lambs (+ 2.2million ewes and rams) Only 60,000 UK skins p.a. are processed by the remaining UK tanning sector, less than 0.45% of the total”2015 Sheep Industry Report

Go back less than two decades and wool was the primary reason for sheep farming. In 2001 the ratio changed in favour of meat – a trend that continues.

Humans have been tanning animal hides for thousands of years. Today only a tiny percentage of hides go through the tanning process. The industry has come along way from preserving skins from the hunt, although the essential process is the same. The art of creating soft, lasting hides has been passed down through generations.

Sadly, much of the byproduct of the meat industry now goes to waste. Very few tanneries still exist in the U.K. All our sheepskins come from UK flocks (with higher welfare standards than much of the world) Most come from sheep that have lived outside on Dartmoor. Check out our shop and see for yourself, none of our sheepskins were produced in a thoughtless fashion, all are unique. 

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Why do we sell sheepskins?

Child sleeping on sheepskin

When our daughter was no bigger than a scan photo we bought our first sheepskin. We went from the hospital directly to get a pure cream medium length sheepskin for our unborn baby to sleep on.

The luxury of sheepskin has always made me feel safe, it’s always been reassuring to me. After a hard day you can rest your baby on a sheepskin and you’ll know it’ll feel loved. No matter how cruel the world can seem, you can always return home and rest your head in utter luxury.

So when our tiny little girl was born, and even tiny nappies seemed rough on her delicate skin, we laid her on the very thing that felt safest, our first sheepskin.

That skin served us well, it’s been through the wash countless times, every time it’s a little surprise to tumble dry the thing and find it like new… Well, nearly new (our little girl is now eighteen).

We now have many sheepskins in our lives, all of them special. But that first cream coloured sheepskin will always feel extra special. It’s served as baby bed, changing mat, seat cover for Nan, it was a pet bed for a while, but after a wash it always bounces back like new.

This is why we started Dartmoor Sheepskins, only with our company each sheepskin is unique – we don’t sell standard anything, each skin is personally selected, we only stock sheepskins that we would want to live with ourselves. Each time we sell a sheepskin, we do so knowing it can do as much for you as our first sheepskin has done for us. And when you come home from a hard day, I know that resting your head on one of our skins will give comfort and reassurance.