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Author Topic: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***  (Read 1057 times)

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
I've been bottling this up for a while and have decided to start a discussion.

It could get emotive, so let's all try to respect each other's opinions, no matter how different...

Over the last five years or so, partly perhaps due to the rise in veganism (there's another thread I might start...), a number of yarn and fibre producers have emerged claiming "vegetarian wool" and "slaughter-free flock".

I've no problem with the likes of Ellie Langley, the feltmaker, claiming such, nor with The Woolly Patchwork Sheep Sanctuary and others like it, where no sheep are bred and all sheep in the flock live out their natural lives. 

I do, however, find it disingenuous to claim such when breeding for sale occurs.

It may well be - and I am sure usually is - the case that no sheep goes to slaughter direct from that farm.  But all of us who breed know that not every lamb is suitable as a breeder, and even if they were, there won't always be breeding homes available for all of them. 

And in the unlikely event that every lamb can go to a breeding or forever home, what is the cull policy of those breeding homes?  Do all tups and ewes work until they die of natural causes?  Does the breeder sell only to farms which promise to rehome (with the same stipulations) or return ewes and tups once they can no longer work on that farm?  And what does the "slaughter-free" breeder do with the returns? 

The buying public knows so little about farming, they can be easily taken in by a good marketing slogan.  And if their belief set makes them prefer to support only producers whose livestock do not enter the food chain, but they love sheep and wool and crafting with fleece  :spin: :knit:, then they are ripe for exploitation.

Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing
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shep53

  • Joined Jan 2011
  • Dumfries & Galloway
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2020, 09:56:16 am »
OK i'll play , is all wool not vegetarian ? since sheep only eat grass /roots /cereals , before foot & mouth they were allowed to eat fish meal and bone meal  but that all stopped . Now I know that chemicals are used on all the above  but  all vegans do not eat organic  :thinking:

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2020, 10:12:42 am »
Ho, don't get me started on vegans-not-organic!   :rant:  Actually, do - but let's take that bit of the argument to the thread I just started on veganism...

Yes, many of us would say that wool is a vegetarian product, and many vegetarians happily spin fleece from commercial sheep. 

But wool is not and will never be vegan, not by the original definition of veganism, which debars the exploitation (use) of any animal in any form - including pet animals.

Somewhere between those two lies the market for this sort of hype. People who think we shouldn't use animals for meat, and that wool from such animals is tainted, that purchase of same is propping up an unacceptable industry.  For those people, wool from animals who are not part of the meat industry is not only acceptable but should be encouraged.

And I repeat, I have no problem with vegetarians, nor with people who prefer to get their animal products from animals not destined for the table.  My problem is with the dressing up of one thing as another.  A meat sheep in a vegan sheep's clothing, perhaps!  lol 
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2020, 12:19:48 pm »
There seems now to be a division of 'vegan' into 'ethical vegan' and 'dietary vegan', but let's keep that for the other thread.


# I think it goes deeper than just a slaughter free flock v a flock bred for the table.  I see fleece as a product secondary to meat production.  What I mean by that is that sheep are being reared for slaughter in vast numbers, and to throw away the wool would be unacceptable.  To use the wool in a productive way is an ethical approach to my mind


# To keep a slaughter free flock seems ok at the beginning - you are essentially taking animals out of the food chain, rescuing them if you like.  But what happens at the end of their lives.  Sally you mentioned 'until they die of natural causes' - how kind is that?  Some sheep might be bouncing around happily one day and drop down dead the next, but what of the ones which get sick, or are slowly starving to death with no teeth?  Does the slaughter-free flock owner make them carry on to the bitter end rather than having the animal euthenased?  What first made me aware of this is the fleece flock on the Falklands, where animals are kept for 7 years doing nothing much but growing fleece, then at the end of 7 years they are slaughtered and dumped in the sea for wildlife to scavenge.  To me that is an unethical waste and I find it very distasteful. The world is full of people without enough to eat and they are wasting hundreds of perfectly good meat animals.   I know the owners don't have a problem with that way of dealing with their animals at the end of their, what is to them, productive usefulness.  I don't know what claims they make about the welfare of their flock


#Then of course there is the matter of the 'five freedoms' for domesticated livestock which includes being able to express the normal aspects of their nature within a captive environment.  Surely that includes reproduction?  Yes it does.  So a slaughter free fleece flock breeds replacements and when eventually they are at capacity, they sell surplus animals - this already goes against the five freedoms for a flock animal which is all too aware of its own family with long term links to them.  But, agreeing with the point you have already made Sally, the original flock owner has no control over what happens to those animals once they are sold.  So their blithe claim that this is a slaughter free flock has some mighty big holes in it.


# Surely if you are going to produce decent quality fleece, then you have to be selective in the lambs you keep?  So you give away or sell the unsuitable ones, the second raters? Then we are back to what happens to them down the line.  There are not that many hand crafters needing fleece and having room to keep their own animals, so many will go into the food chain.


I am with you on this, that the slaughter free fleece flock is just a sales gimmick, maybe well-intentioned originally, but realistically it rests on a whopping big deception.


For me, the wonder of fleece is that it gets produced by sheep with no input from us.  So it is the ultimate renewable fibre.  So in a way, people keeping sheep which are not intended for the food chain, are producing all that methane supposedly produced from grass grazed sheep, then wasting the most useful bit of it (ok useful if you eat meat/are contributing to feeding the world's population) just to use the by-product.  I find that ethically wobbly.
However, the whole matter doesn't get me totally wound up, it just makes me think that some people are stuck in a cul-de-sac in their thinking.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 12:29:31 pm by Fleecewife »
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Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2020, 05:15:17 pm »
Sally, you trying to make me redundant? :innocent:

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2020, 05:22:20 pm »
Sally, you trying to make me redundant? :innocent:


 :roflanim:
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2020, 06:13:20 pm »
If the sheep are kept and only culled when dying or suffering, thats OK. Otherwise it's a falsehood.

Ermingtrude

  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2020, 06:29:03 pm »
What a great topic for discussion.

I am lucky - more than lucky - I have my dream life of a little smallholding, out of the way, but not so isolated it is difficult, and I have peace, and my animals. 20 years of keeping horses ( my first love ) on livery yards, being ruled by their imposed sanctions on what I can and can't do, was too much. After 2 years on a yard that had *unlimited*  turnout, which turned out to be * horses not turned out at all from October to April* - we moved. Seeing how the horses flourished in 24h turnout with shelter was the reward. I got 4 sheep with the intention to fatten them for the freezer.  We did, they were lovely, in all ways - lovely to see, lovely to handle and lovely to eat. I made myself take them to the slaughterhouse ( I can't call it lovely, because it was a horrific experience for me, but nothing to do with the people - fabulous, calm, helpful, reassuring - or the place - clean, calm, quiet ) and I collected them 3 days later. And I ate them, and they were very tasty. I had had them from weaned lambs, and I knew they had a lovely life, and a calm, stress free death. I also have a small flock of pet sheep - yes I have bred them, but always well well within the limits of the land we have, and when older sheep reach their end, they are humanely dispatched, and removed - not kept beyond what is acceptable for a *reasonable* care or a life. The same is true for my horses, dogs, chickens etc. They have their place, and they are looked after well, and when they retire, they do so with the same care as the others, until life isn't good for them anymore. Better a week too early than a day too late. The fleeces from the sheep go to a friend of a friend, who spins it into wool ball things, and makes stuff. I managed to grab a couple of wool balls and make a hat ! (it didn't fit, I can't do hats, only scarves apparently ) but it was - and will be in the future - used.
Not far from me is a rescue place. All sorts there - horses, donkeys, sheep, a few cows, goats, geese, chicken etc. Some of the sheep are lame, the chickens look like there is a red mite issue, the geese are stressed and thin, the donkey has rain scald, and the horses are standing in deep mud, around a ring feeder with some hay in it, and they look miserable. Apparently they were all rescued from homes that didn't care for them, or used them for breeding/food etc. They sell the wool as vegan, and the eggs as organic, ditto the milk from the cows, yet when I asked how they got the milk, given their *non breeding* status, they wouldn't answer. They sell kittens, and bunnies, baby goats as pets, and offer lamb feeding experiences as a perk in the spring.
Am I wrong in thinking this *ethical vegan farm* is not as ethical as it sounds, and that people go there and feel better about themselves for funding this so called *good* experience. I asked where the goat and sheep babies that didn't get sold went, they wouldn't answer that either.

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2020, 10:52:43 pm »
There I was @Ermingtrude happily reading about your lovely, happy smallholding, then we came to the vegan 'rescue centre' - oh dear, that makes me very sad, and mad  :furious: .  Imagine those poor animals being rescued and ending up there.  That is pure exploitation.   The place needs to be investigated and the questions you asked must be answered.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2020, 11:22:47 pm »
It's not even clear any longer what "vegan" really means.

in the old days, a die-hard vegan would use no animal product whatsoever; would avoid cosmetic and medical products which had been tested on animals, would wear and use neither leather nor wool, would have no pets, and so on.  You might not agree with them, but at least you knew what they stood for.  There could be no such thing as "ethical vegan livestock" or "ethical vegan livestock farming"; anything involving animals was unethical, period.

The modern vegan seems to pick and choose which bits they want to follow.  Many have pets, apparently some even have livestock farms!  :o :o

Wool, to me, cannot be vegan.  It can be ethical, it can be - is, to many of us - vegetarian, but vegan ?  No.

As to farms which sell meat and dairy - or veg - as organic when they are not certified  :rant: :rant:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Ermingtrude

  • Joined Mar 2017
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2020, 06:40:32 pm »
There I was @Ermingtrude happily reading about your lovely, happy smallholding, then we came to the vegan 'rescue centre' - oh dear, that makes me very sad, and mad  :furious: .  Imagine those poor animals being rescued and ending up there.  That is pure exploitation.   The place needs to be investigated and the questions you asked must be answered.

It's the sad state of affairs for many places. Many (most) places are fabulous, but some are not. They need public funds to run, but to attract the public they need more than a few elderly well looked after animals. Hence the milk, eggs, veg from the farm ( organic ? no idea, no signs to confirm a licence, but advertised as such ) same with the milk - organic unpasteurised, fine but again no licence to show organic. And if no breeding, why the milk. Questions were asked, and replies not forthcoming - it is an ongoing issue ! 

A mainly closed flock with new arrivals balancing out the inevitable deaths at the other end of the spectrum - all done with care, consideration and a respect for the animal. That isn't feasible for a regular breeding flock. I can't see how a breeding flock would work otherwise - if you sell, surely you risk them going to a place that fattens for the fork-market - you can't possibly expect them to go to pet homes and police that idea. Which then brings it back to whether a breeding flock can also be non-slaughter.

I am lucky ( more than lucky ) I can afford to keep some horses, sheep, a couple of chickens and a dog, and fund them with no expectation of anything in return. I can make the chickens some pasta if it is cold, put out haynets for the horses, and soak up some grass pellets for the sheep if there is going to be a frost in the morning, and they could do with something to eat that isn't crunchy grass. Don't get me started on the digestive biscuits that are used to bribe them to have foot checks.

Maybe a contentious statement, but how many very well meaning people have taken in waifs and strays, and got overwhelmed, and ended up a *rescue* or a *forever home* and got inundated, and out of their depth with care and feed costs.

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2020, 09:58:41 pm »
It's off topic, but it's such a personal bugbear of mine I'm going to take a moment to answer..

In the UK, you cannot call a product or produce "organic" unless it is certified organic.

Quote from: GOV.UK

Organic certification
You must be certified by one of the organic control bodies if you produce or prepare organic food and you want to sell or label it as organic.

You can decide which body to register with based on your location and needs.

Once registered you’ll have to:

follow a strict set of guidelines laid down by national and international law
keep thorough and accurate records of production processes
allow annual and random inspections
You’ll also have to follow the rules for labelling organic products.


The certification bodies all have their own stiplulations on labelling, but in order to make it simple for consumers, the EU organic logo must be displayed by all food sold as organic in the EU.  The EU organic logo can only be used on products that have been certified as organic by an authorised control agency or body.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2020, 10:03:07 pm by SallyintNorth »
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2020, 10:52:41 pm »
But I believe you can mention that your products are' grown according to organic principals'.  It's a bit like free range a few years back.  You were not allowed to call your eggs (or more precisely the hens that laid your eggs) free range unless they had been certified by someone or other.  We had to change our signs from free range to something like outdoor reared.  We no longer do that because everyone who buys our eggs can see our hens wandering around over the fence and can come and talk to us about them.  I also get the impression that that little rule which had come from nowhere has faded back to the same place!
For folk claiming their food is organic without having the certification, is that a problem near you?  It's not something I've come across.  Lots of folk, including us, don't bother registering as organic because of the endless hoops to jump through, and fees to pay which makes registration not worth the effort.  Most buyers round here seem more interested in food being produced locally than it being organic.
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

SallyintNorth

  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2020, 11:20:30 pm »
It is a problem, yes, if you know anything about what the certification covers and the huge differences between what many small growers mean when they say that their produce is organic versus what certified organic actually gives you.

I WWOOFed on organic farms and veg box schemes, and worked in an organic dairy, so I do have some knowledge of what is involved.  For someone who follows none of the legislation to market their produce as being of the same quality as, and produced to the same ethical and environmental standards as, someone who has done all the work and pays for the certification, makes my blood boil!   :rant: :rant:

In Devon, before I left and headed north, there had started up a "wholesome growers and producers association", which was for people like yourself, who are low input and take care of their environment but are not certified.  That was a good idea, but some people are still abusing the word "organic" and misleading their customers, I'm afraid.

I do see meat on sale at farmers' markets locally which says "ORGANIC" on the label but carries no certification information - and so is most definitely not, in fact, organic.

I'm not the sort who reports people to Trading Standards, so I just seethe  :rant: :rant:
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing

Live in a cohousing community with small farm for our own use.  Dairy cow, beef cattle, pigs, sheep for meat and fleece, ducks and hens for eggs, veg and fruit growing

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Slaughter-free breeding flock? *** potentially contentious content ***
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2020, 12:54:53 pm »
Sally, you're a very angry lady just now. Have a hug  :hug:


There was one time when our butcher accidentally labelled our meat as 'organic' and even though we weren't selling that batch, I scored the word out on every package  ::)
There was also the time we sent a sheep off for necropsy and the vet accidentally put that we were an organic flock.  We got back a ranting report about people not treating their animals properly and playing around with stupid organic methods. That was totally unfair as the sheep had been treated by the vet in question but it still died. We had no opportunity to correct that error and it still rankles.


I am interested in what you are saying, but I haven't seen any such false claims locally to us.  Yes, given the huge input to be certified organic, it is not on that some folk should just bypass that and claim the benefits.  Still, buyer beware!
www.scothebs.co.uk

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus - let sleeping dragons lie

 

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