Badger brushes - best value "Humane" brush

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PolieCat
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Post by PolieCat »

I'm actually not vegetarian at all, but I do think there are more and less humane ways to kill animals for human use. Based on what I read on past posts on shaving forums, the Chinese supply virtually all the badger fur for shaving brushes. The posts claimed that in China they skin the badgers alive, so I bought a Men-U Premiere synthetic brush. Can I prove the posts on the shaving forums about the badgers being skinned alive are true? No, but I'd rather not take the chance.
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drmoss_ca
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Post by drmoss_ca »

Given the choice of skinning a live badger or a dead one, why would anyone choose the former? Badgers are vicious enough even when you aren't trying to flay them, and I suspect they get distinctly irritated by someone who does try. I don't doubt they get knocked on the head first.

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Squire
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Post by Squire »

PC, that's nonsense, no one who is harvesting hair for profit would skin an animal while still alive, the struggle alone would damage the product.
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PolieCat
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Post by PolieCat »

Text and a video link was posted on another major shaving blog, but it basically stated that if stunning doesn't kill the animal, the Chinese will skin them alive. "They are stunned with repeated blows to the head or swung against the ground. Skinning begins with a knife at the rear of the belly whilst the animal is hung up-side-down by its hind legs from a hook. A significant number of animals remain fully conscious during this process."

Are the videos faked? Maybe, I don't know. Is skinning alive a 1 in a 1,000,000 oddity or, as the video suggests, not uncommon? I don't know. But based on their poor HUMAN rights record, tainted medicine, lead-painted toys, contaminated pet food, I can't imagine that humane killing of badgers is a top priority in the People's Republic of China.

I realize people have a wide range of opinions about the killing of animals for human consumption, e.g, a vegetarian may think the factory farming vs. humane farming debate is just arguing over different flavors of cruelty. I didn't mean to offend devotees of badger brushes. I was just responding to hesmellsnice's posting only because he himself indicated he had a concern about how badger fur was harvested. Based on the concerns I had about the same issue that hesmellsnice raised, I got a synthetic brush (Men-U Premiere) that I like quite a lot.
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Post by MiloFinch »

I've seen that video and it is my understanding that the animals in said video are not badgers at all, but Chinese Raccoon Dogs. If you will see at the bottom of that Wikipedia page, the local name "Tanuki" is often mistranslated as badger.

Not that I condone the behavior, because that video sickened me, but the simple fact of the matter is that those were not badgers being skinned for the shaving brush market.
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PolieCat
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Post by PolieCat »

I stand corrected! I didn't know that it was a Chinese-to-English mistranslation of "badger". Maybe I'm watching way too much Lou Dobbs, but I'm trying to buy American as much as possible because I've wary of the products coming from China.
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Squire
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Post by Squire »

PC, apparently you have your mind made up and I regret I wasted time attempting to provide you with information. Animals harvested for human use will be killed and it seems that's your objection. The sensible harvesters do the killing quickly because holding a sharp knife in one hand and a struggling animal in the other takes more time than skinning a dead one and time is money.
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PolieCat
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Post by PolieCat »

Squire, as I previously stated, I have no objection to killing animals for human consumption be it for food, clothing, decoration, medicine, fertilizer, etc., as my daily meals (and high cholesterol) show. Perhaps you confused me with the original poster who said he was a vegetarian and was concerned about the animal welfare implication of badger brushes.

It's not as if someone was debating the best grades of badger fur and then I hijacked their thread with animal welfare worries. I responded to hesmellsnice thread, because I had shared some of his concerns and found what I believed was a fine performing synthetic brush (Men-U Premiere).

After the prior poster provided evidence that the names of the animals skinned alive in the Chinese video were mistakenly translated to "badger", I wrote, "I stand corrected." Why is admitting to my own mistakes proof that you wasted your time on someone closed to new information?
notthesharpest
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Post by notthesharpest »

Anybody who is going to get the hair from a badger is going to have to kill the badger, no matter what country they live in. The fact that animals from China are used is due to some kind of protected status for badgers in Europe (which are not exactly the same as the Chinese ones). In this case, it isn't market forces but more like social forces.

The toys with lead in them, dog food problems, and so on come about because the overwhelming demand in the US market is for low prices and not for quality. I don't think Chinese businessmen are doing anything other than responding to the market in the best way they can. Americans are asking them to cut costs and sell cheap goods, so they cut costs and sell cheap goods, and the Americans buy. If Americans wanted better products available, fair wages for workers in other countries, and American-style regulation of business practices, they could simply start paying the extra cost that would allow those things to happen - but it appears they truly don't want those things, and would rather keep prices low and try to ignore the unethical practices.

Skinning a badger alive would have to be extremely inconvenient (not to mention disturbing) for the person doing the skinning. If I (for some reason) had to skin a badger and my badger wasn't dead, I'd certainly kill it right away to avoid cruel torture for the badger and needless danger for myself. I'm sure they're tough animals and not easy to kill - but they're also very strong, good at escaping from tight situations, and have big sharp teeth, making it a matter of safety for humans who capture badgers to either kill them or let them go.
PolieCat
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Post by PolieCat »

I think you're right, notthesharpest. Fast, cheap, and disposable is what many people want, so the PRC is filling that void. Demand for good service with the human touch and good quality products at fair prices seems to becoming more of a niche market segment. I've been pleasantly taken aback by the wet shaving supply vendors who have taken their time to answer my questions and help me. One thing that comes across on the shaving forums is that sometimes, not always, but sometimes, the old ways are the best ways.
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Cliff
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Post by Cliff »

Regarding the possible "shearing" of badgers. Do you think you'd like to try to shear this??
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Dave_D
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Post by Dave_D »

Cliff wrote:Regarding the possible "shearing" of badgers. Do you think you'd like to try to shear this??
Use these first


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ichabod
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Post by ichabod »

It's difficult to find any accounts of the Chinese treating any animal humanely, so I doubt the badger is any exception.
I wonder if "skinned alive" might mean they are still breathing but unconscious, to keep the meat fresher?
I remember a show in which an intrepid diner (Michale Palin, maybe, or perhaps Anthony Bourdain) was served a delicious snake dish, after having the live snake skinned in front of him and watching it writhe around in its death throes.
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Jukkie
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Post by Jukkie »

Badgers and weasels are very despised animals in many countries. They were brought over from other countries and they wiped native species into virtual extinction. There are parts of the world which encourage the killing of these animals as a patriotic pass-time to protect the land. I don't think you'll upset the balance of nature by buying a badger brush :D

If it helps clear your conscience though, this whole "no animals products" is actually just as, if not more harmful to the environment than the mass slaughtering of animals.

While killing animals doesn't help their population numbers, the pollution created by the manufacturing of synthetic polyersters doesn't help the population survive. Furthermore, these "animal friendly products" are all non-biodegradable. That fake-fur you bought to save a fox will occupy a landfill that used to be fox habitat until biology evolves new organisms that can break down all these plastics. This will probably take a good thousand years or so.

Not to mention how cheap and replaceable synthetic materials are compared to natural furs or hair. Since they don't last as long, people end up throwing out over twice as much waste.

So really, save a fox, kill its land and pollute its air. Doesn't seem like a better alternative IMO.

Do some reading into this alternative stand in environmentalism. There's many companies (who are generally boo'd and boycotted as far as media and advertisements go) who exclusively use real furs and hairs in all of the products BECAUSE they're taking an environmental stand.

Anyways, I'm not playing devil's advocate or anything, I'm just saying that you wont be hurting the environment buying a badger brush, and that this whole "using animals is environmental murder" concept, as society portrays it, is incredibly short sighted and ignorant when you look at the consequences of our alternatives.

Unfortunately, badger trapping used to be very bloody. They used to use spring-loaded clamping traps, like a bear trap. They were about the size of the badger and had huge spikes in them. I believe this method of trapping is banned now, because the traps don't always kill the badger, and sometimes don't even fatally wound it, but I'm not sure, it might still be in practice. Caging is common practice, but some people don't like it because it leaves the badger vulnerable, giving an animal time to kill it and ruin the harvestable parts. So no, I can't guarantee that the badger was treated well, I can almost certainly guarantee though that the badger was a danger to the ecosystem it was trapped in, as most countries with this problem have learned to turn it into a booming business becoming major suppliers of badger to the world.

As an edit note, I think I just realized I was thinking of weasels, not badgers.
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ichabod
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Post by ichabod »

Jukkie wrote:Badgers and weasels are very despised animals in many countries. They were brought over from other countries and they wiped native species into virtual extinction. There are parts of the world which encourage the killing of these animals as a patriotic pass-time to protect the land. I don't think you'll upset the balance of nature by buying a badger brush :D

If it helps clear your conscience though, this whole "no animals products" is actually just as, if not more harmful to the environment than the mass slaughtering of animals.

While killing animals doesn't help their population numbers, the pollution created by the manufacturing of synthetic polyersters doesn't help the population survive. Furthermore, these "animal friendly products" are all non-biodegradable. That fake-fur you bought to save a fox will occupy a landfill that used to be fox habitat until biology evolves new organisms that can break down all these plastics. This will probably take a good thousand years or so.

Not to mention how cheap and replaceable synthetic materials are compared to natural furs or hair. Since they don't last as long, people end up throwing out over twice as much waste.

So really, save a fox, kill its land and pollute its air. Doesn't seem like a better alternative IMO.

Do some reading into this alternative stand in environmentalism. There's many companies (who are generally boo'd and boycotted as far as media and advertisements go) who exclusively use real furs and hairs in all of the products BECAUSE they're taking an environmental stand.

Anyways, I'm not playing devil's advocate or anything, I'm just saying that you wont be hurting the environment buying a badger brush, and that this whole "using animals is environmental murder" concept, as society portrays it, is incredibly short sighted and ignorant when you look at the consequences of our alternatives.

Unfortunately, badger trapping used to be very bloody. They used to use spring-loaded clamping traps, like a bear trap. They were about the size of the badger and had huge spikes in them. I believe this method of trapping is banned now, because the traps don't always kill the badger, and sometimes don't even fatally wound it, but I'm not sure, it might still be in practice. Caging is common practice, but some people don't like it because it leaves the badger vulnerable, giving an animal time to kill it and ruin the harvestable parts. So no, I can't guarantee that the badger was treated well, I can almost certainly guarantee though that the badger was a danger to the ecosystem it was trapped in, as most countries with this problem have learned to turn it into a booming business becoming major suppliers of badger to the world.

As an edit note, I think I just realized I was thinking of weasels, not badgers.
Weasels have a bad reputation for saying they'll do something and then weaseling out of it. Then they have to be badgered into doing it.

You make some interesting points, by the way.
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John 5
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Post by John 5 »

When one hangs around here long enough, one can't help but notice the way these topics come up in cycles, like clockwork.
Jukkie
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Post by Jukkie »

I'm glad my little side-note on eco-friendly fur sparked some interest for you Ichabod.

If anyone else is interested, I dug up the campaign website from the fur industry that they set up.

http://www.furcouncil.com/ecological.aspx

Since environmentalism is being thrown into this thread, I think anyone who's really concerned may as well read the environmentalist stand from both arguments, for and against the use of animal furs.

Many fur products can be handed down at least for a generation or more if well cared for. They make pretty good points about fossil fuels and the whole practicality of fur and recycling/creating/disposing of it. So far it seems that the only argument against them is "being eco-friendly is about saving wildlife and protecting it, not killing it for its fur".

But I've stated my opinion on the opposed view.
Hraefn
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Post by Hraefn »

Bristle Sourcing:

As a company dealing in badger brushes the question about the source for badger hair comes up quite often. We have had conversations about this with many of the manufacturers we work with. Mr.Philip Watterson ,Managing Director, Progress Shaving Brush (Vulfix) Ltd provided us with what we consider excellent information on this subject, and is our basic understanding within the industry. He said this information could be shared as necessary and we think it would be educational here...

"Badger hair is imported from China. British, American and Canadian Badger are of no interest to brush manufacturers and cannot be connected with today's limited trade. China being the main export of Badger hair does so with very strict control on the amount exported each year, clearly displaying their awareness of environmental conservation. The Badger population is carefully monitored avoiding any decrease in its numbers. (It should be remembered that the Badger is a source of meat to the Chinese people and is available in the markets). Chinese Badger are collected from the wild and are not in contravention of the Washington Treaty of Endangered Species."

"This has been an industry for the people of China for hundreds of years and it should be remembered that an increase in the Badger population would quickly be regarded as vermin and a pest to agriculture. The high prices paid for Badger hair, its removal being a costly operation, means that any significant growth predicted in its demand has little foundation. Such an expensive product will never be part of the mainstream fashion boom. Britain, Europe and America all operate very strict import controls ensuring that any Badger hair brought into these countries is done so with all legislative agreements being strictly adhered to. The ecologists in both the exporting and importing communities of Badger hair have created a system preserving the Badger, an important source of livelihood for hundreds of years in the Far East and ensuring that a small market does exist, creating valuable work in an industry which dates back to the time when wet shaving was first recorded."

In addition, sometimes a customer has mentioned hearing that badger are sheared like sheep and ask if this is true? Mr. Watterson indicated that from his vantage point badger are not sheared like sheep. Em's Place has never heard that from any of the other brush makers we communicate with either. In regard to boar brushes, our understanding is those bristles are primarily sourced from China, India and Russia.

thanks www.emsplace.com
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Post by Bob »

I have an Omega synthetic brush. While it's nice for travel, it is not the equal of a badger brush, or even a boar brush. Still, it's serviceable. Of course, the synthetics aren't doing much good for the natural world, either, so weigh that in when making your decision.
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