THE NATURAL PARADISE OF TASMANIA
THE ORIGINS OF OUR WOOL
A LUSH ISLAND
MERINO SHEEP LOVE IT
PERFECT CONDITIONS FOR THE FINEST WOOL
At the farms where ORTOVOX sources its wool, sheep have a completely natural habitat with rich food sources. That is just one of the reasons why Tasmania provides the highest quality wool in the world:
Merino sheep lead a totally relaxed life on their farms. Their daily task is to eat as much grass as possible, stay fit and healthy and grow their wool.
It is in fact the living conditions in Tasmania that are responsible for the top-quality wool. The merino sheep have almost unlimited space to roam and discover rich, natural sources of food, such as pasture grass, which is especially high in protein. The climate is moderate: The winters are not particularly cold, and extreme heat is just as rare. These factors lead to uniform fiber growth – and here, uniform is synonymous with stable. Happy sheep provide good wool. The same principle as for Bavarian cows, just on the other side of the world.
The merino sheep can trace its origins to North Africa, from where it was brought to Spain in the Middle Ages before making its way (after a rather long stay or “export ban”) via Germany to the rest of the world. The fine-wool sheep also came with European settlers to Australia, including Tasmania, where the majority of the world’s merino sheep now live.
For 180 years a great deal of expertise and energy has been invested in breeding in Tasmania. Over the decades, this has led to the development of sheep breeds that produce wool with very fine, tear-resistant qualities. It is also a means of avoiding the infamous practice of mulesing. Mulesing, the cutting off of skin folds in which dangerous fly larvae can settle, is not practised on any of the farms we select. Instead, the farmers also rely here on breeding. Many modern merino sheep do not grow the skin folds in question at all, which also makes shearing considerably easier.
A couple of facts and an anecdote
FOUR MILLION YEARS OF DEVELOPMENT
We use the best natural conditions in Tasmania in order to process the best merino wool: The natural conditions there provide an ideal habitat for sheep and their wool. Because over many millions of years, nature has achieved what humans have been trying for only a few hundred years: creating a perfect fiber. Tasmanian merino wool is of a particularly high quality because all the conditions are just right here. The animals have enough fresh grass, plenty of space to roam, and are cared for gently.
ORTOVOX sources its wool from six selected farms in Tasmania, some of which have been run by the same families for several generations. But it’s not enough for us to know that our wool comes from Tasmanian merino sheep. We engage in constant dialogue with the farmers and have so far made four visits to look behind the scenes and under the wool, in order to be sure of the well-being of the sheep. The farmers enjoy our complete trust and we use and wear their wool in best faith. Because: If the sheep are happy, then their wool will also be top quality. But what exactly do we mean by “high-quality wool”? Where does it come from? Here you will find answers to your questions.
Wool quality is generally measured using the fibers. The finer the fibers, the higher the quality and the price – and the less itchy the wool. The thickness of the merino wool fibers is measured using “microns”, where a micron represents a thousandth of a meter (=0.001mm):
Ultrafine: Less than 16.5 microns
Superfine: 17 to 18.9 microns
Fine: 19 to 21.9 microns
Medium: 22 to 23 microns
Strong: 24 to 25 microns
The only wool finer than merino wool comes from Angora rabbits, with fibers with a strength of 12 to 16 microns. Comparable wool varieties with a greater fiber thickness are cashmere, camel, alpaca and yak wool.
THE EVOLUTION OF WOOL
It is normally white, but can also be black or brown. When it’s warm, wool has a cooling effect; when it’s cold, wool is warming. When we talk about wool, we mean the white hair of the coat (not the guard hair) found above all on sheep. Wool grows and grows and grows and is therefore a 100% sustainable raw material that was first used in the fourth century BC. Synthetic fibers and cottons are some of the most important “competitors” for wool, which has nevertheless maintained its economic strength to this day.
WHAT IS WOOL?
In earlier years the wool used for (mountain) sports was warm, but was above all also itchy, dried slowly if it got wet, and was also not particularly sexy. This wool was “normal” wool from other sheep breeds, however, and not from merinos. Normal wool is around twice as thick as the merino wool provided by our four-legged friends in Tasmania.
Nowadays, and of course also at ORTOVOX, the very fine wool fibers from merino sheep are used, particularly for underwear and products that come into direct contact with the skin.
How exactly does sheep wool enter the production cycle?
FEATURES OF OUR MERINO WOOL
Back to the sheep