Advantages of Using Natural Wool Fiber From Sheep, Goats, and Rabbits

Updated on July 19, 2020
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Scientist and author, Beth enjoys living life in the slow lane. She takes time to enjoy the little things in life.

Sheep have long, thick wool coats that provide insulation against the cold.
Sheep have long, thick wool coats that provide insulation against the cold. | Source

9 Advantages of Using Wool Fiber

  1. Wrinkle-resistant; wool springs back quickly after stretching.
  2. Resists soiling; fiber forms a complex matting.
  3. Retains its shape; resilient fibers return to original size after washing.
  4. Fire resistant; fibers don't support combustion.
  5. Wool is durable; resists wear and tear.
  6. Repels moisture; fiber sheds water.
  7. Fabric is comfortable in all seasons; keeps a layer of air next to the skin.
  8. It's a great insulator; air is trapped between its fibers forming a barrier.
  9. Wool impedes heat transfer, making it good at keeping you cool too.

What are Some of the Uses of Wool?

The quality of wool produced by each breed of sheep is different and so is suited to a variety of uses. Sheep are sheared annually and their fleece is cleaned and spun into wool yarn. Knitting converts the yarn into sweaters, beanies, scarves and gloves. Weaving changes the wool into fine fabric for suits, coats, pants and skirts. Coarser wools are used to make carpets and rugs. The fibers can also be used to make blankets and comforters (duvets) which are warm and naturally cosy.

Wool from annual shearing is very versatile and is a wonderful green renewable resource. There are hundreds more ways to use natural wool fibers. It can be used for roof and wall insulation in buildings. It is used as an insulator for chilled-box food home deliveries. I recommend The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook for even more great ways to use natural fibers to make sustainable materials a key part of your life.

If the animal has been killed for meat, the entire skin can be used with the wool still attached. The un-sheared fleece may be used to make floor coverings or to produce decorative winter boots or clothing.

Untreated sheep's wool after shearing and before cleaning.
Untreated sheep's wool after shearing and before cleaning. | Source

What is a Natural Textile Fiber?

Wool is a natural fiber produced by sheep (and a few other animals) that is harvested as a crop by humans. It’s made from a protein called keratin which is also found in human hair. Wool can be spun or woven to form material. This textile fabric is then stitched or formed into clothing, shoes and accessories. Wool is a natural product and is renewable as sheep regrow their coat each year.

The video below shows how wool from a sheep’s back is turned into fabric that can be used to make clothes. The raw wool is first cleaned before being carded (untangling the fibers). It is then combed and spun to create a continuous length of wool yarn.

Wool Production Process

Wool Fiber is a Good Insulator

The primary characteristic of wool is that it is an excellent insulator. A woolen sweater will keep you cozy and warm by trapping air between its fibers. It also allows moisture (perspiration) from your body to evaporate (wick) through the fabric. This helps keep your skin dry and comfortable. Wool can be worn in both winter and summer conditions as these insulating and wicking properties help you maintain a steady body temperature.

As the price of wool has fallen, farmers have found new markets for their product. Wool insulation is now sold as to builders as a quality roof and wall insulating product. Wool fleece is also made into wool insulation cool packs to keep fresh food chilled in home box deliveries.

Sheep Wool Insulation: Features and Benefits

Wool is Renewable and Recyclable

There are environmental benefits to using wool fiber rather than synthetic. Wool is a naturally renewable product; sheep grow a new fleece each year. This is true for all wool producing animals. The most common commercially produced wool crops are sheep, goats and rabbits.

Wool from the various animals have different properties. Cashmere goats produce a fine silky wool known as cashmere which is 3 times warmer than sheep’s wool. Angora goats have a fine, soft wool which confusingly is called mohair. Then there are Angora rabbits that produce a soft, fluffy yarn known as angora.

When wool fabrics are discarded they can be recycled by being made into other products. For example, old woolen clothing can be remanufactured and made into roof insulation. If they are not suitable for recycling they can be added to compost. The wool fibers will decompose into fertilizer and so save adding to unproductive landfill.

Which is your favorite wool fiber?

See results
Wooly sheep in a field. Wool fiber is biodegradable and sustainable, unlike synthetic fibers.
Wooly sheep in a field. Wool fiber is biodegradable and sustainable, unlike synthetic fibers. | Source

Why Is Wool a Good Fiber For Winter?

Wool sweaters are ideal for winter as they are provide insulation and at the same time allow for natural wicking of moisture. A synthetic fabric can trap your sweat next to the skin and make you feel sticky and uncomfortable.

There are many different types and grades of wool. To name just a few, the wool for your sweater can come from sheep, goats, rabbit, llama or yak. You may know specific breeds of these, such as angora (rabbit), cashmere (goat), mohair (angora goat) and merino (sheep). Each one differs in softness, durability and washing characteristics.

Sheep's wool is the fiber most commonly used as it is often a by-product of meat production. The cheapest and coarsest fibers are used to make carpets. Only the longer and better quality wool staples are turned into clothing.

Wool is naturally flame-retardant, and has a far higher ignition threshold than many other fibres. It will not melt and stick to the skin causing burns, and produces less noxious fumes that cause death in fire situations. Wool also has a naturally high level of UV protection.

Wool Comforters (Duvets) Give a Good Night’s Sleep

Research by the University of Leeds, UK (published 21/04/2016) found that using a 100% wool duvet (or comforter) rather than a synthetic one results in a better night’s sleep. The natural insulating and wicking properties of wool fibers control each sleeper’s microclimate. The keratin protein molecules in wool are able to absorb up to a third of their own weight in water before the fabric feels damp. Partners sharing one duvet produce moisture and heat at different rates, but the amazing thing about wool is that each fiber responds individually. So both partners under the same duvet are able to maintain a comfortable sleeping micro-environment.

The study looked at the thermal insulation and moisture management properties of woollen duvets compared to other materials. Dr Ningtao Mao, of the University of Leeds, said “The results showed that wool allowed 67 per cent more moisture to escape over an eight-hour period than a feather/down wadding, and 43 per cent more than polyester. Wool was able to cope with nearly double the amount of perspiration per hour than feather/down and around 50 per cent more than polyester.”

Angora rabbits have very soft fur. Just like sheep, their coats can be shorn.
Angora rabbits have very soft fur. Just like sheep, their coats can be shorn. | Source

Is Wool An Eco-Textile?

Wool is a renewable, sustainable fiber and is classified as an eco-textile. It is an environmentally-friendly, natural, recyclable material.

The fleece of wool-producing animals regrows each year. Providing animals are well cared for, a fiber crop can be harvested for many years without harm to the herd. Wool fleece is hardwearing in use and has excellent thermal properties.

Natural wool fibers are biodegradable. They can be recycled when they have outlived their original use. Old, discarded pure wool garments can be added to garden compost heaps. Here they will break-down after time into a useful weed-supressing mulch.

Does Natural Fiber Insulation Bring CO2 Results?

The use of natural fibers (such as the wools discussed in this article,) is an environmentally-friendly way of insulating homes and cool-boxes. Wool fibers are harvested with a low environmental impact. Other forms of insulation are usually oil-based and their production and use intensifies global climate change and increases atmospheric CO2 (carbon dioxide) levels.

So, not only is wool fiber a cost-effective insulation material, by using it you are also helping to reduce global warming and slow climate change.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)