Holobach 1Perry HolobachNovember 18, 2011Senior ProjectMs. Tillery Mistreatment and Abuse of Sheep in Australia Australia is the leading producer of Merino wool with New Zealand as the second largestproducer. These sheep are bred primarily for their wool and their meat. When they become tooold or of no use to the farmers they are sent off to be slaughtered. Sheep are transported in tightlypacked containers; most sheep will die during transportation due to malnutrition anddehydration. Any sheep born during the journey will also die, usually from being trampled todeath. (Action for Our Planet) “In any given year, 99-120 million sheep are kept for their meatand wool in Australia alone, and 10-15 million will face the slaughterer‟s knife.” (AnimalLiberation Victoria) Even in the slaughterhouse they find no relief, most deaths should be quickand painless for the animal, unfortunately for the sheep this is not the case. Improper procedureand methods lead to the inhumane deaths of the sheep. When interviewed, most slaughterhouseworkers did not know the proper amount of voltage to stun the sheep long enough to kill them.This results in the sheep waking up and feeling immense pain, specifically bleeding out, beforetheir throats are slit. Sheep are abused and mistreated from even before the day they are born. Some types ofwool are taken from the sheep‟s skin while still inside the mother, this form of abortion takesplace close to the time of birth and will kill the lamb and the mother. The type of wool is calledKarakul, literally fur from lambs, and is the most expensive type of wool because of the harsh
Holobach 2procedure performed to obtain it. This slaughter can also take place a few days after birth whenthe wool is at its softest stage, the lamb is then killed and skinned. Also, male sheep are castratedtypically through the use of a tight rubber ring to cut off blood supply to the testicles, one of themost painful methods possible, without anesthetics. (Beauty without Cruelty) After each processthey are bathed in toxic pesticides. Sheep ears will be poked through, their tails will be cut offand they will be museled to keep maggots from eating them. (Wool as Fashion) Mulesing is aprocess in which the skin around the anus and hind end is cut off, the sheep will then heal andhave a smoother skin. However, this cutting of the skin is not considered abuse; it is to keepthem from being infested by flies that produce maggots that will eventually eat the sheep fromthe inside out and typically results in death. The maggots are produced from flies laying theireggs in the moist folds of the sheep‟s skin. Often times the procedure, like the castration is donewithout anesthetics. The method itself is not abusive; the way in which the procedure isperformed is abuse. With sharp tools and harsh treatment by farmers, the process turns into ahorrific experience for the sheep. A common misconception is that sheep need to be shorn in order to stay cool and preventthem from overheating in the summer, however, this is untrue. Merino sheep are selectively bredfor certain traits. For example, the sheep that produce the most wool will be bred with similarsheep, the few that produce very little wool will not be allowed to mate. The sheep selected tohave thicker wool are then shorn too close to the skin, and their skin will usually come off in theprocess. This leaves them exposed to the weather and disease as most of the farms they are raisedon are not clean and spacious. As a result most sheep will become emaciated and die. Sincefarmers are paid by the weight and amount of wool, and not by the cleanliness or methodsacquired, it is not a concern how many sheep are abused and mistreated during the process.
Holobach 3According to Animal Liberation Victoria, an estimated one million sheep die [within] 30 daysafter shearing, this is from exposure to the weather resulting in hypothermia and otherconditions. When a sheep is genetically engineered for its wool, it causes the sheep to becomedependent on humans, no longer can they shed their own coats during the summer, or growthicker coats for winter. Sheep are stuck with what they have and farmers relieve them of toomuch wool this essentially kills them. Every sheep farmer has one goal: to have hundreds of sheep no matter the cost. Moresheep mean more money. This has turned farmers to modern science, and has driven them togenetic engineering and selective breeding. Due to genetic engineering sheep are being bred fortheir wool, their endurance and their offspring. It is not common for sheep to have more than onelamb a season, however farmers are pushing the limits and forcing sheep to have two or threelambs a season. (The Big Cover Up) Occasionally, the lamb is too big to be birthed by themother and its front legs will be cut off while in the womb. This process is known asembryotomy and is practiced more often than it should be. If anyone was performing thisprocedure to a dog or a cat, it would be considered animal cruelty and punishable by law withfines, the sheep are not so lucky. It has also been said that sheep are just another dumb animal, here for slaughter to keepus warm and keep us fed. This is not the case. Neurologists have conducted studies with sheepand determined them to be similar to humans, dogs and cats. Sheep have the same centralemotional center people do, and react to stimuli in the same ways. (PETA) One onlooker at aslaughterhouse described the experience later, saying the sheep were [visibly shaken], that theycould „smell the blood‟ had „crazy, wild eyes‟ and „made sounds like crying babies‟. (AnimalLiberation Victoria) This is contrary to the popular belief that sheep and cows are ignorant of
Holobach 4their fate and die dumb and happy. Documentaries have shown cows being herded to theirdeaths, some with broken legs and others too scared to walk; they are pushed forward by cranesand men to be killed systematically. This is no different than the sheep; they are pushed andpulled until they are killed without a second thought. There have been a few attempts to save the sheep, businesses established to save thesheep but those businesses were shut down in Australia. Animal cruelty laws have done little todeter the farmers and sheep shearers from stopping their abusive ways. However, with theproduction of synthetic fibers closely resembling wool some heat has been taken off sheep,however people will always need wool. Most consumers do not even realize they are buying realwool from abused sheep. Thousands of clothing products have wool and wool substitutes, andpeople do not look for these components, or they are just ignorant of the abuse. Other solutionsto combat the abuse are new breeds of sheep with less wrinkly skin; in order to help preventmulesing. Anesthetics are available for sheep that endure this painful procedure; however,Australian law does not require farmers to use them. In modern society popular clothing storessuch as Abercrombie and Fitch, H&M, Perry Ellis and Liz Claiborne are boycotting the use ofMerino wool. (Greenopedia) Instead of wool, these designers are turning towards more eco-friendly products, including a type of wool that is made from recycled plastic. There is an emerging method of shearing that does not require sharp tools, calledbioclipping. This process requires only a net and a protein administered into the veins. Theprotein occurs naturally in sheep, it is the protein that causes them to shed their wool naturally.By injecting it in a concentrated amount, it causes the wool to stop growing for a period and thenresume naturally. The break that occurs allows shearers to simply pull the wool off, as if thesheep was wearing a coat. Instead of having to manually shear the sheep and tear off the skin in
Holobach 5the process, the sheep are much more comfortable. This method does not harm the sheep at alland the protein injected is metabolized by the sheep in a matter of hours. The nets used act as asecond coat, and protect the sheep while the wool grows back, and prevents the sheep from beingexposed to weather. The only downside to bioclipping is the cost and also how long it takes toset. The sheep‟s wool will not be ready for four months. The cost of materials alone would deterany sheep farmer who can do it himself for free. Additionally the nets used to encase the sheepare not available for all shapes and sizes of sheep, including the genetically altered large sheep.Also, the procedure can only be performed by a BIOCLIP certified representative or by a farmerwho has been certified. (BIOCLIP®) Despite the deterrents, bioclipping offers more thanprotection for sheep. Some of the perks are the enhancement of wool quality, reduced risk of flystrike (reducing the need for mulesing), improve growth rates and an increased wool value. Inessence, the solution has made the problem worse, with the restrictions and the cost farmers areless inclined to use the product. The amount of sheep raised has caused more problems than only the abuse of sheep. Dueto higher numbers of sheep, there is a shortage of areas to graze. Farmers buy acres of land tokeep their sheep on, and allow them to eat the land dry. This deprives the other animals that needthe land and the grass, mostly kangaroos. Per Australian law, any landowner can do what theywant to „pests‟ they consider to be harmful to their livestock. (Australian Government) As aresult, some five million kangaroos have been slaughtered. Farmers take it upon themselves torid their lands of kangaroos instead of allowing them to share the grass, when kangaroos do notharm sheep. In the needle felting industry most felters will use corriedale wool instead of chunkywool from Australia. This wool does come from New Zealand, but is acquired from a different
Holobach 6type of sheep that is less abused than the Merino sheep. (Woolcrafting) Felters have founddifferent kinds of wool to use, as well as some substances that are much more unique. A style ofcraft has been born that uses animal hair such as dogs and cats to create the same felted animalsas wool.
Holobach 7 Works CitedAction for our Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://www.actionforourplanet.com/wool/ 4548164102>.Animal Liberation Victoria. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://www.alv.org.au/issues/ sheep.php>.Australian Government. N.p., May 2008. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/ animal_welfare.html>.Beauty without Cruelty. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://www.bwcsa.co.za/issues/animals- in-fashion/wool-as-fashion>.“BIOCLIP® NATURAL WOOL HARVESTING SYSTEM.” BIOCLIP. Merial, 2004. Web. 17 Nov. 2011. <http://au.merial.com/pdf/bioclip_mer0160_sales_brochure.pdf>.“Felting in History .” Wandering Sheep. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Oct. 2011. <http://wanderingsheep.com/blog1/about-felt/felting-in-history-is-needle-felting- period/>.Galbraith, Fiona. “Died in the Wool.” The Big Cover Up. Viva!, 2009. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://bigcoverup.org.uk/wool/>.Inside the Wool Industry. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://www.thenazareneway.com/ vegetarian/inside_the_wool_industry.htm>.Melton, Aria. “The Dark Side of the Wool Industry.” Greenopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://greenopedia.com/tidbits/the-dark-side-of-the-wool-industry/>.