The Truth About Wool

WARNING! Viewer discretion advised.

Wool comes from sheep. Sheep grows wool. Weather gets hot, we shear sheep and get wool in exchange to make clothing. In this perfect scenario it’s a win win situation right? I mean, shearers ARE doing those sheep a favour, we don’t want these animals to be overburdened with wool.

Wrong.

Sheep that have not been genetically manipulated, grow just enough wool to protect themselves from temperature extremes.

“Because shearers are usually paid by volume and not by hour, this then encourages fast work with little to no regard for the welfare of the sheep.”
Peta.org

In fact, an investigation carried out by PETA has found that sheep are denied food and water 48 hours before they are meant to be sheared, to weaken them, so that ‘they won’t put up much of a fight’. Video footage has revealed acts conducted by shearers such as punching, kicking and stomping on sheep in the shearing shed. Any wounds that were made on the sheep were loosely sewn together with no anaesthesia or care for the welfare of these animals. It is uncommon to find dead bodies of sheep lying around due to the torment.

Investigation within the wool industry has revealed some rather disturbing facts, as quoted by PETA:

“Lambs tails being chopped off without painkillers. Male lambs are castrated via cutting the testicles out or with a rubber ring used to cut off blood supply. When the lamb’s testicles do not fall off as expected, shearers often just cut them off with clippers.”
Peta.org

tail-docking2
Image source: Peta.org

In addition to the abuse, ‘mulesing’ is performed on lambs and sheep, a painful procedure which involves slicing skin from the buttocks of lambs without anaesthetic to produce a scar, free of wool, faecal/urine stains and skin wrinkles. This horrific procedure is performed in an attempt to prevent ‘flystrike’.

“Flystrike is caused when the wrinkles around the breech area collect urine and moisture. Attracted to the moisture, flies lay eggs in the folds of the skin and the hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. The process of performing Mulesing does help reduce, but does not eliminate the incidence of flystrike.”
Peta.org

3808-mulesing_5f00_copyright-patty-mark_2d00_alv
Image source: Vegan Magazine
840-mulesed-lamb
Image source: Animals Australia

There are many difference alternatives which are currently still being trialled, these include Skin Traction and gene mapping the sheep blowfly. However, the best alternative is prevention.

“Selecting breeds that have wrinkle free breech area, resistant to flystrike, closer monitoring, timely shearing and applying insecticide during fly season can all assist in the prevention of flystrike.”
Peta.org

What can I do to help?

There are many ways in which you can help my friend. Simply by:

  • Not purchasing wool (there are many humane alternatives to wool such as ; rayon, cotton, hemp, acrylic, nylon, microfibre)
  • Purchase cruelty free wool which have the cruelty free logo
  • Sign petitions against animal cruelty in the wool industry
  • Support non profit organisations campaigning for cruelty free sheep standards: Animals Australia, PETA

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