Oakville, Washington


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Holy Lamb Organics
Natural Bedding Company
Wholesale & Retail
Bedding Manufacturer
Oakville, Washington, USA


Holy Lamb Organics does NOT use wool that has been dipped. Here is some more information about this practice.

What is Sheep Dipping?

A practice that involves the immersion of sheep in large concrete vats utilizing chemical solutions, or the spraying of sheep with chemical solutions designed to clean and destroy ectoparasites before shearing.

Why is it used?

It is mainly used to treat parasites and to control parasite breakouts on large sheep farms. The problems caused by parasite worry and the transmission of disease make control of external parasites essential. Elimination of external parasites from a geographic area is difficult if the parasites involved are capable of living for prolonged periods independent of the host. Ticks, for example, can live in the environment for up to 2 years without feeding. Sheep in areas where many ticks exist are continually reinfested, and treatment is repeated at frequent intervals.

Where in the world does sheep dipping occur?

This practice is more commonly done in New Zealand and Australia where their climate lends towards more parasite breakouts than in the U.S. You should not need to worry about if your wool has been dipped unless it is imported from another country. However, this practice has been used on large scale U.S. sheep farms when parasite breakouts occur. Again, Holy Lamb Organics does not use wool that has been dipped.

How sheep dip works:

In order to kill parasites the sheep dip pesticide must be absorbed through the parasite's skin. It is either sprayed on the animal or the animals walks through a bath and gets “dipped”. Since it is absorbed through the skin this is also the main route of potential human absorption. Once absorbed, organo-phosphate pesticides act by affecting the body‘s nervous system. An enzyme, which is present in nerves, causes the nerves to become over active.

Harmful side effects to humans: Organo-Phosphate (OP) Sheep Dip is harmful to humans when in direct contact with the skin. Unfortunately, it is common practice for sheep dippers to use little or no protective clothing during the dipping process.

The symptoms of acute poisoning occur within 24 hours of exposure and may be mistaken for the flu. They include tiredness, nausea, sweating, salivation, stomach cramps and diarrhoea, runny eyes and blurred vision, increased frequency of passing urine, change in heart rate and general excitability. Dermatitis is also another potential hazard from pesticides. Exposure to a large amount of concentrate produces more serious symptoms, fortunately however antidote treatments are available. A few pesticides have been associated with the wasting of the nerves to the lower limbs, 14 days after exposure, which causes altered sensation and muscle weakness.There is still controversy concerning long term nervous system complaints following pesticide exposure which do not come on soon after exposure.

A concern for consumers where the wool bedding was made from dipped sheep is the chemical residue leftover. This residue persists even after scrouring (washing) of the wool has occurred. This is a subject that requires more research. We will be adding more information in the future.

Harmful side effects to animals:

Though no direct evidence has been found on the effects of dipping or spraying sheep with these pesticides, one can easily extrapolate that it is extremely harmful. The chemicals would have direct exposure to the sheep’s skin- unless however, the wool and the lanolin help protect the sheep. This subject requires more research, but we can assume at least that it is certainly not good for their health. We must weigh which is worse: a parasite infestation or the harmful chemicals to deal with it. We must also ask what types of factors create parasite infestations and are there sustainable practices that can be incorporated to reduce conditions that invite parasites?

Environmental Effects:

Sheep dip areas should not be located near watercourses and spent dip must be disposed of correctly in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency.

History of Sheep Dipping Practice:

The control of ectoparasites has been practiced with mixed results over the last 60 years in New Zealand. In many countries, it is compulsory by law to dip sheep when they are relocated from parasite-infested areas to "clean" country. In other countries compulsory dipping of all sheep at frequent intervals has been enforced.

The first chemicals used for dips were arsenicals. These chemicals were suspended in the water and each animal that passed through the dip removed some of the chemical. This process is termed stripping the dip, and fresh chemicals need to be added to maintain the proper concentration of chemicals.

The next compound used for dipping was the gamma isomer of benzene hexachloride, introduced in the late 1940's. In the 1950's the organophosphates were introduced as dipping agents.

Certain organophosphates, which are absorbed by the animal and circulated throughout its body, were introduced in the 1960's. These are termed systemic compounds. In some cases, their use has provided relatively easier treatment methods than dipping. The organophosphorus compounds are cholinesterase inhibitors. Cholinesterase is a compound that plays an essential role in the function of the nervous systems of both parasites and their host animals. The organophosphates can therefore be dangerous to sheep if used incorrectly or if used at the same time as an anthelmintic having similar cholinesterase-inhibiting action.

Types of Parasites:

Ectoparasites of sheep include arachnids and insects. They are responsible for serious economic losses throughout the world by degrading fleeces. Blowflies are a problem and are controlled by keeping the sheep unattractive to the blowfly. All areas of the sheep must kept as dry as possible and the wool around the tail of ewes in shorn 2 or 3 times a year. This process is known as crutching. Dipping or "jetting" with organophosphate insecticides helps kill maggots before a strike is established. Jetting is the use of high-pressure jets of liquid insecticide to a specific part of the sheep, such as around the tail or the centre of the back, where water might remain in continuously wet weather.Ticks and flies tend to be most prevalent in summer months in warm areas, while mites, keds, and lice are more frequently encountered in winter months in cooler climates. Damage caused by ectoparasites includes worry, wool damage, and the transmission of disease organisms.Ectoparasites can develop resistance to chemicals used for their control. Insecticides previously used were marginally effective and are labor intensive in their application.

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