Meet the Sheep Behind Those Woolly Jumpers and Blankets

After all these disturbing findings, you might think that wool industry workers would be on their best behaviour and be less violent towards sheep. But you’d be wrong.

In 2018, an eyewitness worked on a sheep farm in Victoria, Australia – the world’s top wool exporter – and found the farm manager and workers mutilating terrified lambs in assembly-line fashion. This shows, yet again, that there is no such thing as humanely produced wool.

In a separate Australian investigation, an eyewitness worked for a sheep-shearing contractor in New South Wales, Australia, and found that workers struck the frightened sheep in the face with sharp metal clippers.

What More Do You Need to See to Stop Wearing Wool?

Sheep are gentle individuals who, like all animals, feel pain, fear, and loneliness. But because there’s a market for their fleece and skins, they’re treated as nothing more than wool-producing machines.

In Victoria, one worker put tight rings around lambs’ scrotums – which is extremely painful – without anaesthetics so that their testicles would shrivel up and fall off weeks later. When the testicles don’t fall off soon enough, shearers just cut them off with clippers.

Also without anaesthetics, workers punched holes in lambs’ ears and cut and burned off their tails with a hot knife, causing them to writhe in agony as flames shot up from their flesh.

According to one former Victorian government veterinarian, “Severing tails is … an extremely painful procedure: these sheep would have felt the pain of having their spinal cord, skin, and soft tissue severed.”

These excruciating mutilations are standard procedure across the global wool industry.

And in addition to all that, many lambs die of starvation or from exposure to the elements before the age of 8 weeks.

Cutting Flesh off Lambs' Backsides as They Writhe and Cry Out in Agony

Workers also cut chunks of flesh off lambs’ hindquarters with shears in a crude attempt, known as “mulesing”, to address problems caused by breeding them to produce excessive amounts of wool.

Lambs are prey animals who normally suffer in silence, rather than drawing attention to themselves and attracting further harm, but these animals were treated so badly that they cried out in agony and fear.

Mulesing is a barbaric effort to create smoother skin that won’t collect moisture and attract egg-laying flies, leading to “flystrike”. But the exposed, bloody wounds often become infected with maggots anyway, causing many mulesed sheep to suffer and endure prolonged, agonising deaths.

When PETA first exposed this gruesome procedure, it prompted international outrage. Mulesing was banned in New Zealand, and Australian wool industry officials promised to phase it out by 2010.

But eight years later, most lambs in Australia are still being subjected to this torment.


Mother Sheep Watch and Frantically Call Out as Their Lambs Are Mutilated

All these agonising procedures took place in full view of the lambs’ mothers, who frantically called out to them and tried to get as close to them as possible.

Workers then dropped the lambs to the ground or a blood-spattered mat, where many landed hard on their bloody wounds.

They cried out as they ran in search of their mothers amid the flock.

Sheep Deemed Unprofitable Die Agonising Deaths

The manager slit the throats of fully conscious sheep with a knife and then broke their necks.

One sheep kicked for nearly a minute after the manager began cutting her throat. He said that some kick for a “bloody couple of minutes”.

According to one veterinarian who reviewed the footage, this sheep exhibited clear signs of extreme distress and pain for nearly a minute while the manager continued twisting her head and neck and slashing her throat.

A sheep and a lamb nearby saw it all.

Even those sheep who survive years of repeated, stressful shearing face an awful fate. Every year, millions of unwanted Australian sheep are loaded onto extremely crowded multi-tiered cargo ships and sent on a terrifying journey to the Middle East or North Africa, where their throats are cut – often while they’re still conscious.

Beaten in the Face and Badly Cut Up

In New South Wales, an eyewitness found that shearers repeatedly struck naturally timid sheep in the face with sharp metal clippers and in the stomach with their bent knee.

Paid by volume, the shearers worked at breakneck speed and severely cut the sheep, roughly stitching up their wounds on the filthy shearing floor with no pain relief whatsoever.

They even cut off huge swathes of the sheep’s skin.

One farmer put a tight ring around a sheep’s scrotum so that his testicles would atrophy and later fall off. When other animals’ testicles didn’t fall off as expected, shearers cut them off with clippers. Again, no pain relief was given at all.

Please Help Stop This Abuse!

Fashion retailer Forever 21 sells a range of wool items including hats, knitwear, and coats. The company has 700 stores around the world, which means huge numbers of sheep are suffering for its products.

Please, join us in urging boohoo to ban wool:

All images: © PETA Asia