Sheepskin and Wool
Q: Where do our sheepskins come from?
A: Most of our sheepskins are sourced from New Zealand and Australia. The pleasant news is that sheepskin is a by-product of the meat industry and no animals are harmed specifically for use of the skins. In actual fact we make use of a natural resource that, if properly cared for and tanned carefully, will last for a lifetime.
Q: Which breeds are mainly sourced?
A: Auskin uses a variety of breeds. We carefully match the properties of specific breeds with the optimal end products. Most skins come from what we call a half-breed. A half-breed typically incorporates a mix of breeds that may include merinos, romney and border leicester. Sheepskin tanners source skins firstly by specifying the fineness and style of wool that is needed for the specific sheepskin products. It is the features of the wool that is most important rather than particular breeds.
Q: How durable is my sheepskin?
A: Very durable! Auskin sheepskins will last a lifetime if they are cared for properly and used as the products were intended. Shorter wool clipped rugs and those made from stronger wool types will withstand more wear than longer wool unclipped rugs or finer wools. We have provided extensive Caring for Sheepskin guidelines to help maintain the properties and life of the sheepskin products.
Q: What dyes are used to colour the sheepskins?
A: We use a variety of dyeing systems depending on the end use of the sheepskin. None of our dyeing methods use AZO dyes and we are compliant with EU Reach regulations.
Q: Will my sheepskin rug fade in sunlight?
A: Like all natural materials, sheepskin rugs will change colour if placed in direct sunlight. Sheepskins do not have the degree of colour fastness of some synthetic products so we recommend that you do not leave sheepskin products in the direct sunlight.
Q: How do I care for my sheepskin?
A: We have provided more information than you ever thought you would know about caring, storing and removing stains from sheepskin in our Caring for Sheepskin guide.
Q: What is the difference between a woven wool rug and a sheepskin rug?
A: Generally sheepskin rugs are made from skins with finer and softer wools than those used in woven rugs. Sheepskin rugs are the skins of sheep with the wool fibres remaining in their natural state and are then permanently fixed during the tanning process to the skin. Wool rugs are made from stronger carpet wool fibres woven or injected into a backing material. They use wool types that are strong and suitable for walking on and intricate patterns can be achieved in the weaving process. Patterns in sheepskin rugs are achieved by piecing together portions of different sheepskin rugs that have been dyed different colours.
Q: Why are white sheepskin rugs slightly yellow?
A: We do not produce pure white sheepskins because we try to retain the natural colour. We seek to enhance the natural colour, which results in a natural ivory shade with a creamy yellow hue. Dyed or darker shade sheepskins change and cover this creamy shade.
Q: Are sheepskins bleached?
A: Sheepskins are not bleached in the way that fabrics are bleached to achieve a white colour. We use minimal bleaching in our washing processes to protect the softness of the fibre. Our tanning process does result in a ‘whitening effect’ on the wool fibres.
Q: Will I have problems with animal rights activists when buying your product?
A: It depends on the position being taken by particular activists. It is a worthy note that our sheepskins are produced as a by-product of meat production and no sheep are killed specifically for the skins. This is very a different situation to animals being farmed for the purpose of producing fur garments. Some people thoroughly object to animals being used for meat, fibres, skins or milk and we expect that a sheepskin will not be acceptable to those who hold such views.
Q: Are sheepskins suitable for my baby?
A: We recommend that only our Infant Care rugs be used for babies. These are selected to ensure that there is no loose wool or material that could be dangerous if swallowed by a baby and are tanned so that they can be washed more frequently. It is important that consumers follow the advice of their local childcare professionals when choosing bedding or comforters for their babies. This advice will vary from country to country.
Q: What is the difference between a sheepskin rug and a lambskin rug?
A: A lambskin rug is from a sheep that is less than 12 months old and has not developed incisor teeth. The wool has generally not been shorn by the farmer and still has the original soft wool tip (this is often referred to as baby wool). Sheepskins are from sheep that are older than 12 months and have developed incisor teeth. The two terms are commonly used interchangeably.
Q: Why are there bare patches without wool on the edges of my rug?
A: These are areas on the skin that naturally do not have wool on them. We reduce these areas when we finally trim our skins but do not entirely remove them, as they are part of what makes each sheepskin a unique natural product.
Q: What is tanning?
A: Tanning is the method by which our products are preserved. It involves blended recipes that maintain the natural fibre’s colour, shape and construction.
Q: How are sheepskins tanned?
A: The hide or skin is immersed in a formula designed to bond the collagen proteins that make up the skin. Tanning has been practiced for thousands of years to preserve the natural wool fleece and retain adhesion and longevity of the leather.
Q: Do Auskin sheepskins contain harmful chemicals?
A: No, and our sheepskins are tested regularly to ensure that they do not contain harmful chemicals. Chemical standards differ worldwide and we monitor and manage this process carefully to make sure we are adhering to local and international standards. Auskin executes robust testing protocol to ensure the absence of pesticides and heavy metals. Test results and records pertaining to each region are freely available through each sales office.
Q: What dyes are used to colour the sheepskin?
A: The dyeing system we use depends on the end use of the sheepskin. None of our dyeing methods use AZO dyes and we are compliant with EU Reach Regulations. Please contact your nearest Auskin sales office for our latest test results.
Q: Is the production of Auskin products environmentally friendly?
A: Our production process is constantly refined and developed to ensure that our practises have the least effect possible on the environment as possible. We sell excess materials, recycle or reuse water, liquid and packaging at every available point during production.
Q. What is the company structure?
A: Auskin is headquartered in Australia, has manufacturing facilities in China and sales/warehouses in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, USA, Japan and China. Two college friends from Northern China established the Company in the 1990′s after establishing strong relationships with the New Zealand tanning industry and continue to own and run the company to this day.
Q. How many employees does the company employ?
A: Auskin currently employs between 400 and 500 people, most of who work at our tannery in Xuanhua.