Beneath that woolly exterior there’s a lot more to sheep than you might think. Sheep are quick learners. Just like dogs, sheep can learn their own name, and can be trained to lead a flock. Lambs are very playful animals—they even have a special signal to other lambs to come play! But life isn’t fun and games for millions of sheep raised for their meat and wool in Australia...
“Sheep make similar use of complex visual cues from the face to recognise each other, and other familiar species... Overall we have estimated that they can recognise at least 50 different individuals, although in reality the actual figure is probably much higher than this. They can also remember associations with specific faces for several years. Thus their recognition and memory abilities using faces are remarkably similar to those of humans.”
— Dr Keith Kendrick, from the Babraham Institute, Cambridge, England
Australia has more sheep than any other country on the planet, roughly 82 million. Millions of these animals suffer and die every year because of neglect. In cold parts of the country, newly shorn sheep, new borns, pregnant and mother ewes regularly die of exposure to the cold. And disease, parasites, foot problems and lack of food during drought can all go unnoticed and unaddressed.
Around 33 million sheep are killed every year for their flesh in Australia. That’s 13 million adults and 20 million lambs. These animals, who aren't used to human contact or confined spaces are crammed into tightly packed trucks and can face up to 48 hours without access to food or water as they are trucked to slaughter.
The smell of fear permeates slaughterhouses. Sheep are forced down narrow chutes and wait helplessly for their turn to enter the abattoir to be electrically stunned. Finally their throat is cut and they are hung by their legs on an overhead conveyor line to let the blood and life drain from their body.
Rough handling is the norm at shearing sheds. Shearers are paid by number of sheep shorn, not by the hour, so speed is prioritised over precision.
Ultimately, nearly all sheep in Australia, including those raised for wool are killed before their time. When sheep are no longer profitable to the wool industry they are trucked off to the slaughterhouse.
Most of us have had the wool pulled over our eyes about what sheep really go through for that lamb roast or woolly jumper. You have the power to help end their suffering. Don’t follow the flock. Take a stand against cruelty!
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Merino sheep, which originated in cooler climates of Europe, regularly face days of extreme heat in Australia without any access to shade.
Mulesing involves cutting off part of the skin from the lambís backside without pain relief. This bloody procedure is used to reduce the risk of flystrike, a problem caused by introducing sheep to the wrong climates and poor management.
During the mulesing process lambs may have their tails cut off. To do this they cut through bone. Imagine having the last few vertebrae of your tail bone cut off without pain killers!
To make mulesing easier, sheep are locked into metal restraints.
Sheep shearers are paid by number of sheep shorn, not by the hour, which means they are urged to shear as many sheep as possible, which can result in careless handling.
As a result of careless shearing, sheep can suffer cuts, grazes and gashes from the shearing equipment.
For 'ultra fine wool', sheep are confined in individual stalls and denied access to the outside world. The confinement can drive the animals insane, shown by signs of abnormal repetitive behaviours such as bar biting.
Ugg boots aren't warm or cosy for the animal whose skin was stolen!
Sheep form close bonds with each other and sometimes even with other animals.
When people taken the time to get to know sheep, they find they are friendly, social and make great companions.
Sheep are quick learners and can even learn to follow commands, just like a dog.
Lambs are renowned for their playfulness. A lamb will leap into the air and kick up her back legs to indicate to other animals that she wants to play.
Animal cruelty sucks—but you don’t have to put up with it!
It’s in your power to break the killing cycle. Here’s how: