How organic wool is produced comes from strict rules on how sheep are to be treated and how the wool is to be processed.
In order for wool to be classed as "organic wool" there are several criteria that need to be met.
This is to ensure that the wool meets a high standard, is genuinely organic and that the farmers have not been cutting any corners.
There are two stages to meeting the criteria.
The first is ensuring that the sheep are being treated in a humane and natural manner. The second is ensuring that the shorn wool is being processed organically.
No Chemicals For Feed Crops: Organic sheep have the ability to wander free around their paddocks and graze to their heart's content on lush green pasture.
The fields must be free from chemicals and if any extra feed is brought in then that too must be chemical free.
No Synthetics: Regular farmers use synthetic hormones and sometimes genetic engineering. They also use synthetic pesticides, both on their pasture and directly on the sheep. These practices are prohibited in organic wool production.
Must Be Able To Wander Naturally: Both for their own health and because of the need to treat animals ethically organic sheep must have the ability to roam naturally.
The Carrying Capacity Of The Land Cannot Be Exceeded: When wool prices go down regular farmers put more stock on their land in order to maintain their profits. This is a short term gain but in the long term all it does is degrade the land. The natural feed will be exhausted and the soil exposed to erosion. Organic farmers do not overload their land with too many sheep.
Healthy Medicines: There are synthetic and chemical based medicines that are used for regular sheep that cannot be used on organic sheep. Where possible alternative methods will be used to keep the sheep healthy, such as regular paddock rotation, which reduces the chances of the sheep acquiring parasites. If the sheep do need medicines, there are restrictions on what can and cannot be used.
No Dipping: Regular sheep have parasites controlled by being "dipped" in chemicals. This abhorrent practice cannot be used in organic production. Not only is this better for the sheep but it is much healthier for people, as we can pick up the chemical residue when our skin is exposed to the wool. It is also much healthier for the earth because these chemical baths enter our waterways as run off.
No Carbonization: Carbonizing is a process where wool is cleaned with chemicals after the sheep has been shorn. Not only does this put harmful substances into the product but it also strips away the natural lanolin. Lanolin is an oil that occurs naturally in sheeps wool, making the wool soft and comfortable. Without lanolin wool becomes brittle and itchy. Instead of carbonizing the wool is washed with vegetable soaps and then turned into organic wool fabric.
The combination of all these farming and processing factors is how organic wool is produced.