The sheep we use for Malabrigo are only the finest merino sheep in Uruguay. This means that the farms have to meet our high standards too, especially in areas like animal treatment, cleanliness, and herd management. SUL, which monitors regulations of wool breeding and herd management, keeps very high quality standards as well. For instance, the Uruguayan wool farmers are not allowed to use mulesing methods to deal with flystrike — instead, they are trying to breed out the excess folds, and keep their herds small enough to deal with infection and disease.
The herd I visited is located in Paysandu, which is one of the Uruguyan states that contains the most wool farming. The ground there is rocky, which makes it perfect for sheep, who are best left to nibble at what grows up through the rocky ground. If they have too much food, the micron and fineness of the wool is compromised — too little, and the sheep are unhealthy and produce brittle fleeces and fibers. The balance between the two is crucial, and herders pay attention.
When shearing season comes around, the herds are marked for quality. Sheep marked with one blue dot (the paint is a chalky substance which washes out when the fleece is cleaned) are fine — those marked with two blue dots are the superfine sheep that win competitions. The finest wool at this farm is some of the finest in all of Uruguay. Malabrigo purchases the wool that this farm produces, so you are, for sure, going to be knitting with wool from these sheep!