At Patagonia, we work hard to develop materials that meet our quality standards and, when it comes to products sourced from animals, that prioritize the humane treatment of animals and restoring the health of the land. To that end, we developed a Patagonia Wool Standard that we believe brings together from several important sources the world’s most stringent criteria for animal welfare and responsible land management.
Our standard provides strict guidance and accountability measures in key areas:
Animal Welfare: The standard adopts the provisions of the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) as a baseline for animal welfare, but also goes above and beyond:
- Patagonia’s standard includes special animal welfare provisions covering transportation and off-farm slaughter, as well as stockperson training in compassionate handling, avoiding shearing injuries, acceptable age ranges for castration and tail docking, and consistent availability of food and water.
- Our standard exceeds RWS baselines in the methodology for audits, which we require to be conducted in two phases: 1) during shearing, so that auditors can actually observe shearing practices and ensure standards are met, and 2) during lambing, so that auditors can witness the process of birth, tail docking, castration and all associated risks.
Responsible Land Management: Our approach includes the RWS’ strong land management provisions, which Patagonia played a lead role in developing based on our previous experiences with regenerative grazing practices. These requirements pertain both to grasslands and other biotic communities where sheep may be raised, including biodiversity protection, soil management, and pesticide and fertilizer use.
Quality: Quality has always been and will continue to be a major pillar in our requirements for any materials sourcing, including wool. Our quality requirements exist independent of the Patagonia Wool Standard, and we expect the quality of our wool only to increase in our new supply chain.
With these important pieces working together, we’ve built a rigorous standard containing strong accountability measures that—when coupled with strong supplier partnerships—will give us the greatest possible confidence that sheep in our wool supply chain will be assured:
- A compassionate end of life, whether through on-farm or off-farm slaughter, even though both of these processes are beyond the parameters of our supply chain.
- Reasonable transportation times and appropriate safeguards for safe food and water consumption.
- Careful, humane treatment by farm workers, including treatment during shearing and other practices.
- All potentially painful procedures done under strict control.
We acknowledge that no standard is perfect and continuous improvement is always our goal.
You can view the Patagonia Wool Standard by clicking here.
Choosing Partners Who Share Our Values
Once our standard for animal welfare began to take shape, we went to the ranches themselves around the world in search of partners as knowledgeable and passionate about animal welfare as they are about restoring the health of the land. We then began conducting audits that put to the test many stakeholders criteria proposed in RWS, as well as our own independently adopted safeguards for humane transportation and off-farm slaughter, even though both of these processes are beyond the parameters of our supply chain.
We are currently sourcing our wool from one such partner, the Imperial Stock Ranch in Oregon. They have undergone third-party audits during shearing and lambing to date and we’re confident they will be excellent partners in implementing the rigorous criteria in the Patagonia Wool Standard.
We continue to explore additional partners to round out our needs for merino baselayer and other products – all of which will undergo a full audit process under our new requirements.
We will continue to keep you posted on our progress—and on the availability of our first products to include wool sourced under these high standards for animal welfare and regenerative grazing.