What is Broadtail Fur? What is Astrakhan Fur?

Knoji reviews products and up-and-coming brands we think you'll love. In certain cases, we may receive a commission from brands mentioned in our guides. Learn more.
What is a broadtail fur coat? What is an Astrakhan fur coat made from? What is a Persian lamb? What clothing designers and fashion companies use fur from fetal lambs? Facts and information on the cruel side of the fur industry. Learn how broadtail fu

No matter what you think of fur, and wearing fur, I hope you will agree with me that Broadtail fur coats are cruel. Broadtail fur is sometimes also called Astrakhan fur. It is worn by many people and even used in Kanye West's fashion line.

Warning – this article may not be appropriate for children, or those with kind hearts and weak stomachs.

Where does Broadtail Fur Come From?

You may ask yourself where does broadtail fur come from, or why is there so much uproar about the use of Astrakhan fur?

The Karakul sheep is a breed of sheep originating from central Asia, but currently raised world wide. The lambs are black at birth but fade soon after. They have very tight curls that loosen as they mature. The clothing industry has prized these lambs for years, so much so that an industry of harvesting fetal lambs was developed. A fetal lamb, in case you did not know, is one that has not been born yet.  The term "broadtail" comes from the fact that the Karakul is a type of sheep known as a fat-tail sheep.

In the Broadtail fur, or Astrakhan fur, trade the goal is to get the pelt just prior to the lamb being born. There are several ways of doing this, one is by inducing premature labor by giving the ewe medicine – of course this costs money and as such is the least desirable option. In some areas the ewes are said to be kicked so they abort.

In other cases, where the ewes are older*, they are artificially inseminated, and a mass slaughter they takes place just under 5 months later, with the unborn lambs harvested from their butchered mothers. The lambs are then killed and skinned. *By older, this usually means four or five years of age, not the ten or more years a female sheep can normally reach.

To note, since the fur is so valuable many of the skinned bodies are reportedly often discarded as by-products (according to the Choose Cruelty Free website).

In some cases, where the lambs are a few days old, their skins are sold as Persian Lamb fur, but the names are often interchanged.

In some cases the fur is left its natural black, or dark gray, color, but many times it is dyed. Even when removed from the lamb, if not dyed, broadtail fur does fade when exposed to sunlight.

Karakul Broadtail pelts are usually made into jackets, purses, or hats. It can take as many 25 lamb pelts to make one coat, with as many as 4 million lambs slaughtered per year for production.

Photo source - This lamb is probably only a few hours old. 

According to the Choose Cruelty Free website “Designers Ralph Lauren, Karl Lagerfeld, Fendi, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Jean-Paul Gaultier use astrakhan, and Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's sell it on their own racks.” More recently, Kanye West's clothing line has used Astrakhan fur – which, as you recall, is the same thing as Broadtail fur – fur from fetal lambs.


deepa venkitesh
Posted on Mar 13, 2012
Francina Marie Parks
Posted on Mar 12, 2012
Francina Marie Parks
Posted on Mar 12, 2012