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What’s so great about wool?

There are several features that make Wool unique.  Our ancestors knew about them, too as wool was being used for clothing as early as the Stone Age.                   

Wool is warm

Wool is water resistant

Wool is moisture wicking

Wool is resilient and elastic

Wool is dirt-resistant

Wool is a wonderful insulator. Cloth woven from wool is naturally insulating and contains up to 80% air. The crimp of the wool produces insulating air spaces which retain body heat. The air forms an insulating layer along the skin and prevents heat from escaping. These warm air pockets next to the skin are kept dry while the hollow wool fibers absorb moisture vapors and the hard outer surface moves liquid moisture away from the body.   

Wool fibers are naturally water resistant---a fact well known by mountain climbers and sailors. The first rain coat (before the invention of rubber and plastic) was made of wool. Wool can absorb up to a third of its own weight in moisture without feeling damp. Each wool fiber has a hard water repellent outer layer made up of scales that overlap each other like shingles on a roof. This hard outer layer surrounds each hollow fiber. The fiber’s core absorbs up to 30% of its weight in moisture vapor without becoming damp or clammy while the hard outer layer protects from liquids.

Wool is moisture wicking. Garments made from wool are not only warm, but also wick moisture away from the skin and allow water vapor to pass through the wool fiber—without losing their thermal properties. The ability to wick moisture helps heat ventilation during physical activity and keeps the skin dry.

The wool fiber is resilient and elastic. Each wool fiber can be bent 30,000 times without breakage or damage. Wool stretches and molds to the body of the lamb or dog. When it is washed and dried, it returns to its normal shape. It does not bind movement and flexes and stretches with the animal’s movement. This feature makes it perfect for the active animal.

Wool is also dirt resistant. The crimp and the scales of the wool fiber prevent dirt from penetrating the surface of the wool fiber and its natural static resistance helps to resist dust and lint from the air

All of these features, plus that fact that it is a natural, reusable fabric, makes wool the perfect choice for warming active lambs and dogs.

Why don’t you use Velcro (hook and loop)  fasteners on your coats?

We have tried velcro fasteners on our coats and they were not successful over time. Animals shed hair. The outdoor environment has grass, leaves and seeds. The barn environment has hay seeds and flakes, grain chaff, sawdust, wood chips, cob webs, animal hair---all of which become embedded in the hook part of the fastener preventing it from securely holding the belt around the lamb or dog.  Even when the fastener is closed before washing, the fibers and debris in the washing machine bind to the hook part of the closure and diminish its function. Its ability to securely hold the belt around the coat decreases with every washing. Over time, the velcro fastener becomes filled with debris and hardly stays closed at all. All of us have had the experience of having a sports glove or purse latch with a velcro fastener---and over time it no longer latches securely. Unless one is willing to clean out the hook closure with a brush on a regular basis, the velcro fasteners are not suitable for heavy duty use by active hairy animals in an outdoor or barn environment or in a garment that is made to be washed many, many times.

Why do lambs need coats?

If you’ve every lost a lamb to the cold, you know how important it is to keep newborn lambs warm. What could be natural than wool for warmth? Newborn lambs, when born in a cold environment, can loose body heat (become hypothermic) fail to rise to find the teat, and perish---all in a few hours if left unattended. There are multiple reasons why hypothermia occurs; sometimes the lamb has had a long and difficult delivery with some transient brain injury, sometime, usually in multiple births or with inexperienced maiden ewes, the mother may fail to dry off the lamb before the next lamb comes, and sometimes the lamb is very small and unable to maintain body heat on its own. Nature provides newborn lambs with “brown fat” designed to be used to provide body heat and energy in the first several hours of life. Once this period is over, the lamb is subject to various external conditions (weather, temperature, wind) and several newborn situations that may prevent it from feeding (late milk letdown in the ewe, inadequate milk, inability to stand, inability to compete with larger, stronger siblings, etc., that can result in hypothermia.

Good Shepherd Lamb Coats are designed to be used in a sheltered environment to enhance survival of hypothermic lambs. They are not intended for use on lambs on the open range. Good Shepherd Lamb Coats do not take the place of an attentive ewe and a knowledgeable Shepherd---but they sure help!