Fast Fact: The amount of sheep killed for meat in Australia this year is 33 million. 20 million of those are lambs.
Sheep are very gentle creatures and contrary to popular belief are quite intelligent. They form deep bonds with their babies and can recognise them by their individual bleats. They can also recognise up to 50 individual sheep and humans and have been known to self-medicate by eating beneficial plants when unwell.
- Sheep can live up to twelve years yet they are slaughtered at between 6 weeks to 12 months of age.
- To meet the demand for ewes are artificially inseminated using a technique called laparoscopic artificial insemination whereby semen is injected directly into the uterus of the ewe through the wall of her abdomen. This painful procedure can be done without providing any pain relief.
- During their short life they endure tail docking, castration and mulesing (see below), all without pain relief.
- Tails and testicles are removed by either cutting with a knife, or a tight rubber ring that will cut the circulation until the appendages fall off, both are extremely painful for the animal.
- Mulesing is still common place among many farmers although it is barbaric and archaic.
- In an attempt to reduce the incidence of fly strike in sheep, mulesing involves using a knife to cut the skin from the breech area below the tail about the size of a dinner plate, then ripping off the skin to produce a scarred area of skin that will grow back free from wool. Crutching (shearing the wool in those areas) can be just as effective and without subjecting the animal to excruciating pain.
- The procedure is performed by people who usually have no training or by amateurs who make a seasonal living traveling from farm to farm to perform this ‘service’ at a cost to the farmer. Despite a landmark welfare act in New Zealand which makes the mulesing procedure illegal with heavy fines in place, it will not and has not influenced the practices or attitudes of the Australian wool industry.
- There is no doubt that mulesing is extremely painful. In addition to scientifically measured raised cortisol levels in mulesed lambs, researchers have also studied behavioural changes, with lambs showing strong long term avoidance towards the person that mulesed them.
- With an abundance of fabrics available, there is no need to contribute to this process by purchasing wool products. Always use plant-based and synthetic fibres and encourage your friends and family to do the same.
Fast Fact: Australia exports over 2 million sheep every year.
- Before their sea journey begins, sheep can spend days being trucked to port with no food, water or protection from the elements.
- Once loaded onto ships, depending on their destination, they can spend up to 41 days at sea where a 2% loss is acceptable . That equates to between 30,000 and 60,000 “acceptable” animal deaths each year.
- Death and illness can be caused by a number of factors including temperature extremes, inanition (failure to eat), salmonellosis and poor ventilation.
- They will not receive individual veterinary attention or be humanely euthanized. When found dead in the cramped pens onboard these ships the method of disposal can be either to throw the carcass overboard or placed in a macerator and pumped out into the sea. There have been multiple reports that these methods are also used on sick or injured animals. Imagine being thrown into a shredder while fully conscious.
- At overseas destinations there are little to no regulations to protect these animals. Multiple investigations by animal protection organisations including Animals Australia provide proof that the fate they suffer after surviving the dreadful journey there is atrocious. They are often roughly thrown around leaving them with broken limbs, their legs bound and dragged over concrete, tied to car roofs or shoved into car boots.
- It is standard practice during slaughter for these animals to have their throats slit open while fully conscious.
Fast Fact: The RSPCA received complaints about cruelty to sheep in footage collected in NSW and South Australia between August 2013 and March 2014. Allegations related to workers kicking, beating and stomping on sheep and stitching wounds without pain relief.
- Wool is used in a variety of different ways including which includes
- furniture upholstery
- Australia is the world’s leading producer of wool with nearly 80% being from Merinos. They are not native to Australia and are not suited to our climate.
- With selective breeding these animals have evolved to produce excessive amounts of wool, this leaves them more prone to flystrike which is then controlled by the cruel process of mulesing.
- Prior to shearing, sheep are deprived of food and water to weaken them. Undercover investigations provide evidence of sheep being kicked, punched, mutilated and thrown around during the shearing process. They are often violently punched in the face, stabbed with the clippers on purpose leaving them bleeding from the nose, mouth and eyes.
- In a recent exposé in Australia one sheep was seen to have her neck twisted violently until she died. They often suffer from severe lacerations from the shearing equipment and in some cases complete amputation of body parts. They are denied veterinary attention and shearers are known to sometimes ‘stitch up’ the animals using unsterilized equipment. Such practices can subject these animals to even more suffering due to this being performed by people without the correct training or clean equipment.
- When the animals no longer produce enough wool and are considered unprofitable they are crammed in to trucks and sent to the slaughterhouse to suffer the same horrendous fate of other animals exploited for their ‘products’ or flesh.
WHAT CAN I DO?
The quickest way to stop the exploitation and abuse of sheep is to stop supporting these industries. Share your concerns with friends, family and others about what the issues are. In addition you can also let the operators of these industries know how you feel. If these activities take place in your local area then contact your council and let them know. You can also contact your local MP’s to voice your concern.
HOW CAN I HELP?
Many people don’t realise that you can source all your nutrients from non-animal sources. Going vegan is the easiest and most powerful way to help stop the abuse and exploitation of animals for food or their products. As a consumer, the power is in your hands to choose not to support the industries that inflict cruelty on animals.
The most powerful tool we have to help animals is our voice. Once we learn about the cruel ways humans use animals for greed, profit or pleasure we need to help educate and inform others. To learn more about how to go vegan, go to veganeasy.org.
If you want to do more to help, you can support us by becoming a member of Animal Liberation WA, and signing up to volunteer!