World-First Carbon Neutral Wool by Australian menswear brand: Trial Complete
M.J. Bale’s world-first commercial trial to create Carbon Neutral Wool is now complete. The 48 Merino ewes featured in the trial have been shorn at Kingston farm in the northern Midlands of Tasmania, bringing an end to the 300 consecutive day program to reduce sheep methane emissions to undetectable levels via daily feeds (0.2% of diet) of asparagopsis seaweed.
“For farms like Kingston, sheep have always had an important role in maintaining biodiversity,” says Kingston farmer Simon Cameron. “Now, through the use of asparagopsis seaweed, we are learning how to help them produce the noble fibre that wool is in the most sustainable way.”
Shearing of the trial mob took 90 minutes to complete, with Cameron reporting that the sheep are in “great health and excellent condition”. Cameron also shared that the initial feedback from the shearers and wool classer Evelyn Archer that the Carbon Neutral fleece “maintains Kingston’s outstanding standard”. The wool is now in the laboratory for official testing and classing. The University of Tasmania is compiling their report on the ewe’s welfare and the trial’s data analysis, of which M.J. Bale hopes to have the results by the end of July 2021.
Enteric fermentation from ruminant livestock contributes approximately 10% of total greenhouse-gas emissions across Australia (Australian’s National Greenhouse Accounts 2014). Utilising the CSIRO’s pioneering research into the use of native asparagopsis seaweed as a food supplement to disrupt sheep enteric fermentation, M.J. Bale organised for 48 Kingston ewes to undergo the trial.
In addition to their usual grazing diet, 12 of the 48 Kingston ewes received a daily feed of barley and asparagopsis made by sustainable Tasmanian seaweed producer Sea Forest for 300 consecutive days. Twelve sheep received asparagopsis for the first 150 days then were switched to a barley-only supplement. Another 12 ewes were fed barley for the first 150 days before switching to asparagopsis and barley for the remaining 150 days. The remaining 12 Merinos were fed just a barley supplement for 300 days.
In total, there are 35 kilograms of pure Carbon Neutral Wool and another 70 kilograms of 150-day asparagopsis-fed wool.
“On behalf of everyone at M.J. Bale, we would like to thank Sea Forest Tasmania and Simon Cameron of Kingston farm for what has been a game-changing collaboration,” says M.J. Bale Founder & CEO, Matt Jensen. “In particular, I’d like to acknowledge the enormous effort Simon has put into producing what is the world’s first Carbon Neutral Wool. It’s on our shoulders now to make sure this fleece has the lightest footprint possible through its journey towards becoming a garment.”