Frequently asked questions

What is ZQ Merino fibre?

ZQ Merino fibre is grown in nature on the back of a Merino sheep, not developed in a lab or modified in any way.  Every fleece is hand selected and classed to assess its quality.

What is a Merino?

Merino is a breed of sheep. Famous for its fine, soft wool (usually referred to as fibre) and its ability to thrive in extreme climates. New Zealand Merino products are world renowned for luxury, quality and performance. These attributes are not added during manufacturing, but come from Merino wool’s natural characteristics. Merino sheep can be recognised by their wrinkly skins and fleeces, and rams (male sheep) often – but not always – have large curly horns.

Is Merino a new breed of sheep?

Merino is thought to be the oldest sheep breed in the world, having evolved from several wild species. The ancient Phoenicians from what is now north-west Syria, originally used the Merino for trading. This process of barter and exchange spread Merino sheep throughout the Mediterranean, into Asia Minor, Greece and North Africa. The ancient Greeks then spread the breed into Italy.

Where do Merino live?

Merino sheep are hardy and thrive in environments, which are much too harsh for other domesticated sheep breeds. They are well suited to the high altitudes and mountainous landscapes, for example, in New Zealand’s South Island high country, where temperatures can range from 35°C in summer to -15°C in winter.

Are all Merino the same?

There are different types of Merino, the majority are selectively bred for fibre characteristics, and their suitability to the high country farming environment. Those Merino farmed at lower altitudes tend to have slightly coarser fibre than those in the high country.

In New Zealand, approximately 700 Merino growers manage 3.3 million sheep, 97% of which are run in the South Island. Merino properties range from 120 to 40,000 hectares; from flat land to steep mountains. Around 240 of these farms are the famed Merino ‘runs’ (properties with an average size of 10,000ha), mostly situated in the South Island’s sub-alpine high country.

Who can use ZQ Merino?

ZQ Merino only works with brands and supply chains that we know will treat the fibre with respect that it deserves. We work closely with our supply chain partners to help deliver the very best in Merino textile performance. Strict quality standards are in place to ensure  brand product requirements are met.

Where can I buy ZQ Merino?

Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

What is so special about Merino?

Merino has amazing natural properties: breathable, super soft and never scratchy, naturally fire resistant, odor resistant, easy care, a temperature regulator, it provides UV protection and is 100% biodegradable.

At ZQ Merino, how do you care for the sheep?

Animal welfare is something we take very seriously, and it forms a significant component of the ZQ Merino accreditation programme which prohibits mulesing.

The programme outlines five freedoms:

  1. Free-range farming with access to water and adequate nutrition
  2. Provison of comfort and shelter
  3. Freedom to display normal patterns of behaviour
  4. Physical handling in a way, which minimizes pain or distress to the animal
  5. Prevention of disease or illness and rapid response to any significant injury or disease.

We audit farms regularly and also conduct inspections with a registered veterinarian to confirm that this is being complied with. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.

Are ZQ Merino sheep mulesed?

No, mulesing is not permitted on properties that supply ZQ Merino. Growers have adopted intergrated strategies to manage the risk of flystrike, without mulesing. ZQ Merino has led the world to be the first accredited Merino fobre that guarantees mulesing does not occur.

Does mulesing still occur in New Zealand?

New Zealand has not officially banned mulesing yet, although we understand a revision of the Animal Welfare Act is currently underway that will ban the practice. For more information please contact the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Are Merino sheep harmed in the process of harvesting wool?

Absolutely not, Merino fibre is harvested in a process called shearing. Merino sheep are usually shorn once a year, between August and November to ensure they still have their woolly coats for the cold winter months. Shearers, are highly skilled and pride themselves on careful handling of the sheep. They leave a good covering of wool on the sheep to keep them warm – just like a number four haircut! Machine shears are the most popular because they are fast and efficient ensuring minimal stress on the animal. Shearing is not just about harvesting the wool – it is also about keeping the animals comfortable, relieving them from having to endure the hot summer months with a heavy fleece.

Who are the people behind ZQ Merino?

I want to start a clothing company. Can I sample with ZQ Merino?

Please contact us to discuss your requirements.

How should I dispose of my Merino product in an environmentally safe way?

ZQ Merino is a naturally biodegradable fabric, robust under normal conditions of use, under the right conditions merino will readily biodegrade when buried in soil.