Interesting article about badger products...

RustyBlade

Active Member
2018 Sabbatical
Joined
Feb 27, 2017
Location
Sydney

nav1

Active Member from afar
2018 Sabbatical Fail
Joined
Aug 23, 2012
Also as per the Badger farmer 'Jing said hair accounted for 30 per cent of his business'

That ain't a cheap byproduct, that is the product. Hide was 10% and rest was medicine and cosmetic industry byproduct (whatever that is).
"The fur is a cheap by-product, and we sell it all to vendors in Hebei, where it’s made into car cushions or shaving brushes,” Dai said"

I guess what they mean is that it's perhaps cheap to harvest the hair without too much input or that it's literally cheap but maybe the volume is so high that it makes up a good proportion of income.

I'd guess it's the second one because to harvest any part would require similar inputs from the farmers end.

I just keep hoping that most farmers use humane methods despite the the odd PETA videos showing otherwise.
With 20 badger brushes in my den, I can't say this doesn't sit on my mind at times!
 

alfredus

organises many group buys
Staff member
Site Moderator
State Convenor - SA
Grand Society
Group Buy Caporegime
Charity Auction Team
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Location
Adelaide
I dont think they are using any "humane" farming methods in China, least of all with badgers, lets not kid ourselves...

Adding to that, if you want rock bottom prices for your brush, you are not going to get better farming methods - or better human working conditions for that matter.

I think, the most expensive cost in a knot is the sorting process. Now I always like the 10$ steak as an example: so if you take out the restaurant owner, chef, staff in the restaurant, costs of running the business, tax, the butcher, the wholeseller, the slaughterhouse, transport costs...how much is the farmer getting per cow and what farming methods can he/she afford?

So now do the same with a 20$ brush...how much is the hair sorter getting and how much the farmer? We all dont want to know the conditions at those places :(
 
Last edited:
Joined
Oct 5, 2016
Location
Perth
I dont think they are using any "humane" farming methods in China, least of all with badgers, lets not kid ourselves...

Adding to that, if you want rock bottom prices for your brush, you are not going to get better farming methods - or better human working conditions for that matter.

I think, the most expensive cost in a knot is the sorting process. Now I always like the 10$ steak as an example: so if you take out the restaurant owner, chef, staff in the restaurant, costs of running the business, tax, the butcher, the wholeseller, the slaughterhouse, transport costs...how much is the farmer getting per cow and what farming methods can he/she afford?

So now do the same with a 20$ brush...how much is the hair sorter getting and how much the farmer? We all dont want to know the conditions at those places :(
Which really makes me wonder how a european company such as Omega can sell a boar brush like the 49 or 10066 for something like 5 euros when it is on special. Made in Italy, sorted boar bristle (and dyed if you want for the same price), epoxied knot, lasts for many years of constant use, etc etc etc - yes they use a cheap handle but it's still very much fit for purpose and the cost vs quality proposition still blows me away. I assume Italy has some labour standards in place...?

Of course abattoirs must be almost giving away boar bristle by the ton but still...
 

alfredus

organises many group buys
Staff member
Site Moderator
State Convenor - SA
Grand Society
Group Buy Caporegime
Charity Auction Team
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Location
Adelaide
Which really makes me wonder how a european company such as Omega can sell a boar brush like the 49 or 10066 for something like 5 euros when it is on special. Made in Italy, sorted boar bristle (and dyed if you want for the same price), epoxied knot, lasts for many years of constant use, etc etc etc - yes they use a cheap handle but it's still very much fit for purpose and the cost vs quality proposition still blows me away. I assume Italy has some labour standards in place...?

Of course abattoirs must be almost giving away boar bristle by the ton but still...
From my understanding (please someone correct me), boar bristles need far less/no sorting. They just collect it from the right area of the animal. Same goes for horse hair.

Does make sense to me from the size of the animal alone...and to get back on topic: I don't think Omega or Semogue piggies come from a happy freeroaming organic farm either - do you?
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2016
Location
Perth
From my understanding (please someone correct me), boar bristles need far less/no sorting. They just collect it from the right area of the animal. Same goes for horse hair.

Does make sense to me from the size of the animal alone...and to get back on topic: I don't think Omega or Semogue piggies come from a happy free-roaming organic farm either - do you?
Absolutely not and just harvesting from the right area rather than sorting makes sense. I just note the cost of a good, made in Europe, boar brush is way below the cost of a Yaqi or Maseto badger and wonder why. Boar bristle must still be bleached, cut for length and placed into a knot at European wage rates. But of course no-one grows pigs to harvest their bristle - it's clearly a highly abundant by-product of a much bigger industry and whatever bristle resource isn't used in applications such as brushes would just end up as landfill.

The only differences that could explain the price difference between badgers and boars could well be the sorting - or the potential that the value of the badger hair is actually a significant part of the value chain for some badger farmers (perhaps the ones in Manchuria? :sneaky:), rather than just a cheap by-product as stated here. While I don't doubt that claim (at all) for the piggies, I remain unconvinced for the badgers...
 

Mark1966

...when the General talks
Staff member
Site Moderator
Grand Society
2016 Sabbatical Fail
2018 Charity Auction Winner
Joined
Apr 26, 2011
Location
Canberra
I'm sure that my [vintage] Simpson badger brushes area made from humanely killed free roaming wild European badgers back in the day ...
 

nav1

Active Member from afar
2018 Sabbatical Fail
Joined
Aug 23, 2012
Basically all brands and artisans get their badger hair from China so whether it's directly from Yaqi etc or from a large brand or from an artisan that has turned a $100 handle, the hair/knot are nearly guaranteed to be from China.

I agree that sorting the hair and hand tying a knot are the most laborious parts of the process and if it's done in a developed nation, the knot will take on a price that incorporates the labour costs of the developed nation.
But from what a sizable Chinese hair/knot supplier has told me in the past is most brush makers ask for certain specs, are sent samples and they then place a larger order of ready knots once they are happy with the sample.

My Yaqi and Frank shaving badger brushes are far better than badger brushes we used to be able to get a few years ago in the $80-120 range. Since the brushes are coming directly from China, the prices are more than enough to make them a good profit.

It's kind of like when we hear the "slave labour" propaganda that "these people earn just $5 a day"...well, we'd literally die in Australia if we earn this and had no centrelink but in third world countries, it's literally enough and comparable to the living standard of the dole.

It's different economies that have vastly different costs of living.

From a cost perspective, we are lucky to have a brush supply direct from the source but we can all basically be sure that whether it's a $60 badger or a $260 badger, the source is likely the same and therefore, most likely an inhumane source.

My understanding of boar hair is that it's so abundant that it's just a nominal cost to acquire it in bulk. The hollow plastic handle would cost hardly $1 to produce (as per my father's friend who is a GM at a plastics factory) so I'm sure omega are doing OK charging 10 euro for their boar brushes.
 

alfredus

organises many group buys
Staff member
Site Moderator
State Convenor - SA
Grand Society
Group Buy Caporegime
Charity Auction Team
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Location
Adelaide
Absolutely not and just harvesting from the right area rather than sorting makes sense. I just note the cost of a good, made in Europe, boar brush is way below the cost of a Yaqi or Maseto badger and wonder why. Boar bristle must still be bleached, cut for length and placed into a knot at European wage rates.
Even when you harvest badger hair from the right area, you have to manually sort the hair for consistent good know - boars can be just cut and bleached as you say. Add to that the size of the animal (and therefore the amount of hair/bristle you can harvest) and the lower costs make absolute sense...

Basically all brands and artisans get their badger hair from China so whether it's directly from Yaqi etc or from a large brand or from an artisan that has turned a $100 handle, the hair/knot are nearly guaranteed to be from China.

I agree that sorting the hair and hand tying a knot are the most laborious parts of the process and if it's done in a developed nation, the knot will take on a price that incorporates the labour costs of the developed nation.
But from what a sizable Chinese hair/knot supplier has told me in the past is most brush makers ask for certain specs, are sent samples and they then place a larger order of ready knots once they are happy with the sample.

My Yaqi and Frank shaving badger brushes are far better than badger brushes we used to be able to get a few years ago in the $80-120 range. Since the brushes are coming directly from China, the prices are more than enough to make them a good profit.

It's kind of like when we hear the "slave labour" propaganda that "these people earn just $5 a day"...well, we'd literally die in Australia if we earn this and had no centrelink but in third world countries, it's literally enough and comparable to the living standard of the dole.

It's different economies that have vastly different costs of living.

From a cost perspective, we are lucky to have a brush supply direct from the source but we can all basically be sure that whether it's a $60 badger or a $260 badger, the source is likely the same and therefore, most likely an inhumane source.

My understanding of boar hair is that it's so abundant that it's just a nominal cost to acquire it in bulk. The hollow plastic handle would cost hardly $1 to produce (as per my father's friend who is a GM at a plastics factory) so I'm sure omega are doing OK charging 10 euro for their boar brushes.
I can't agree with that: first of all there are people who pay more, so that the hair is being sorted better and under better conditions - Ken from Paladin is an example for that. He has posted this and I believe him- it is a price he is prepared to pay to get consistent quality.

Shavemac, Simpson and Declaration do of course sort their hair to some extent...that's why you pay the premiums.

Now the "slave labour" propaganda as you call it...it is a fact. One of the main reasons why things in China/Vietnam/Bangladesh/etc. are cheaper, is because of the low work and living standards. They seem like "slave labour" to us and might be reality there. But a fact is, that none of us would want to work like that.

Now I am not saying, that if you pay Yaqi more, work conditions will get better...of course not - Mr Yaqi will just get richer :D

I am just saying, that if you want things substantially cheaper than they can be produced here, it is most likely achieved due to lower standards for the workers there. In a Global Market that's the real difference. So you wont get humane farming condition and higher standards for workers like that...
 

nav1

Active Member from afar
2018 Sabbatical Fail
Joined
Aug 23, 2012
Even when you harvest badger hair from the right area, you have to manually sort the hair for consistent good know - boars can be just cut and bleached as you say. Add to that the size of the animal (and therefore the amount of hair/bristle you can harvest) and the lower costs make absolute sense...



I can't agree with that: first of all there are people who pay more, so that the hair is being sorted better and under better conditions - Ken from Paladin is an example for that. He has posted this and I believe him- it is a price he is prepared to pay to get consistent quality.

Shavemac, Simpson and Declaration do of course sort their hair to some extent...that's why you pay the premiums.

Now the "slave labour" propaganda as you call it...it is a fact. One of the main reasons why things in China/Vietnam/Bangladesh/etc. are cheaper, is because of the low work and living standards. They seem like "slave labour" to us and might be reality there. But a fact is, that none of us would want to work like that.

Now I am not saying, that if you pay Yaqi more, work conditions will get better...of course not - Mr Yaqi will just get richer :D

I am just saying, that if you want things substantially cheaper than they can be produced here, it is most likely achieved due to lower standards for the workers there. In a Global Market that's the real difference. So you wont get humane farming condition and higher standards for workers like that...
My understanding is that you're saying the same thing as I am...just that I'm viewing macro level and yours is at the ground level.

If an artisan buys just hair, they get "bundles" of hair samples. They choose the hair they want (type, gauge, colour, treated/untreated etc), they then tie the knot themselves. The vendor will charge based on the characteristics of the hair chosen by the buyer.

If they are after knots, they specify characteristics, get knot samples and place an order for bulk knots for their handles.

Nothing wrong with either but I find it hard to swallow that a Chinese badger hair vendor would charge e.g. $80+ for a knot instead of $20 just because the buyer has specific characteristics.

When I looked into becoming a brush vendor back in 2010, I did get some costings and I was even guided by two very well known knot/brush vendors.

The way I see it is that the artisans are not only factoring in their labour cost into the raw materials (handle/knot construction) but then putting a markup on the final product.
This is fine if people wish to pay for it as there's many, many luxury products around that don't offer an ounce of value but that's really not my point. If paladin charges a grand for their brushes and people are willing to pay then good on 'em! I just personally don't agree with it.

I have seen first hand the labour market in India when I went to a factory owned by my cousin brother...the 14 labourers earn about $6 a day each. Is this "slave labour" or "poor working conditions"?...in our eyes yes, but outside of those 14 labourers, there's at least another 1000 just waiting to get the opportunity to earn this much. Every day my cousin gets at least 25 people approaching him for a job, and this is in an industrial area with 200+ factories.
It's just the demand/supply of the particular labour markets.
 

alfredus

organises many group buys
Staff member
Site Moderator
State Convenor - SA
Grand Society
Group Buy Caporegime
Charity Auction Team
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Location
Adelaide
I think the people who get hair batches and tie their own knots (Simpson, Shavemac, Declaration) still have to sort (maybe not as vigorously) - as we all know, that it can be hard to get what you actually ordered from China.

Ken from Paladin pays a premium (and specifically for sorters) in order to get a guaranteed knot consistency. Again we all know, how easy it is to promise a product and the reality of delivering it. Since his main labour cost is turning and polishing handles, he can't afford to have sub-par knots...

We just don't seem to see eye to eye when it comes to workers and their rights...just because a system is wrong (no social standards, huge gaps between the mass and a select rich few, corruption, etc) doesn't make it right to pay the mass 6$ a day and argue with the demand/supply argument when it comes to people...

I know I am naive...and I can afford it to have standards...but I strongly believe the workers in the Indian factory should have the same living standards as factory workers here and WE should demand it
 

nav1

Active Member from afar
2018 Sabbatical Fail
Joined
Aug 23, 2012
I think the people who get hair batches and tie their own knots (Simpson, Shavemac, Declaration) still have to sort (maybe not as vigorously) - as we all know, that it can be hard to get what you actually ordered from China.

Ken from Paladin pays a premium (and specifically for sorters) in order to get a guaranteed knot consistency. Again we all know, how easy it is to promise a product and the reality of delivering it. Since his main labour cost is turning and polishing handles, he can't afford to have sub-par knots...

We just don't seem to see eye to eye when it comes to workers and their rights...just because a system is wrong (no social standards, huge gaps between the mass and a select rich few, corruption, etc) doesn't make it right to pay the mass 6$ a day and argue with the demand/supply argument when it comes to people...

I know I am naive...and I can afford it to have standards...but I strongly believe the workers in the Indian factory should have the same living standards as factory workers here and WE should demand it
Allow me to illustrate it a different way...

My cousin and his business partner earn $2K per month each working 7 days a week managing staff, clients, suppliers, machinery etc...this is a good earning and can afford a nice, comfortable life.

When IT professionals that earn $100K in Australia earn $30K in India, it paints a more complete picture.
This is indeed the professional equivalent of "slave labour". The IT professionals (most of whom hold a masters degree) routinely work 12 hours, 6 days a week for wages between $25-40K per annum.

The economy/labour market goes beyond just unskilled labourers.
 

alfredus

organises many group buys
Staff member
Site Moderator
State Convenor - SA
Grand Society
Group Buy Caporegime
Charity Auction Team
Joined
Nov 14, 2014
Location
Adelaide
That's why I definitely don't blame your cousin...I blame the Indian system, where there are some super rich people taking advantage of the mass...and us, who support it by exporting our call centers to them...and try to get cheap products from them.

It is really hard, when you grew up somewhere and are so used to a set of rules, to break out of it - but we who sit here and see how it should be (or at least how it can be a lot better) have to do more, not to support such systems and force changes on them.

That's why I am also not always for free trade...it makes sense between systems of similar standards, but is definitely problematic between high wage/high standard countries and low wage/low standard countries. Look at the problems in the EU and there the difference is by far not as bad as between India and lets say Australia.

Enough non shaving talk - let's think about the next brush buy :D
 

nav1

Active Member from afar
2018 Sabbatical Fail
Joined
Aug 23, 2012
That's why I definitely don't blame your cousin...I blame the Indian system, where there are some super rich people taking advantage of the mass...and us, who support it by exporting our call centers to them...and try to get cheap products from them.

It is really hard, when you grew up somewhere and are so used to a set of rules, to break out of it - but we who sit here and see how it should be (or at least how it can be a lot better) have to do more, not to support such systems and force changes on them.

That's why I am also not always for free trade...it makes sense between systems of similar standards, but is definitely problematic between high wage/high standard countries and low wage/low standard countries. Look at the problems in the EU and there the difference is by far not as bad as between India and lets say Australia.

Enough non shaving talk - let's think about the next brush buy :D
Oh, I don't disagree with you.
I'm not immune to the situation and wish it could be different.

But my preference would be akin to a miss universe contestant saying "I wish for world peace"...It's just not going to happen.

I didn't grow up in India, so it's definitely not a case of "being on the inside of the system". I see it like anyone else would but just like the poverty in Mexico, or Brazil or so many countries in the world. That's just the unfortunate reality, economically or ethically.

What would happen if the Aussie population was 50mil? What about 500mil? That would surely change the labour market dynamics.

There's half a billion people in India that fall into the totally uneducated/unskilled category so there's literally a never ending supply of labour. The government does give rations and healthcare to them though.

The IT professionals I referred to are all working for international clients. It's basically slave labour from the perspective of developed nations. Local company IT professionals earn $10K to $20K per annum because that's the local market.

A friend of mine just purchased a two bedroom flat at my birth place (not where I live now) for $50K...that's not even a deposit even in Tasmania :LOL:
 
Joined
Oct 5, 2016
Location
Perth
Just to add my 2c worth to the free trade issue, I agree that it can feed corrupt and overbearing governments and oligopolists at the expense of the masses and this should be fought so labour gets a fairer share of the profits (lets face it, developed countries aren't immune to this either).

However, it is also true that I don't think anyone is forcing people to work in sweat shops, in general. People working in a sweat shop usually do so because it is better than any of the other options they have in front of them at the time. If we take away free trade, we take even that option away from them... on top of all their other woes, as well as making products more expensive for everyone else. It's a race to the bottom in terms of who is prepared to work for the lowest cost but for the people who really are at the bottom, it's a step up that they desperately need when no-one else is offering them anything at all.
 
Top