Australia is one of the largest wool producers in the world. In fact, we have more sheep than any other country—around 82 million. And while you may think that life for sheep is all green pastures, that’s far from the truth for these intelligent animals, who are used by a profit driven wool industry.
Sheep are naturally ‘prey’ animals, and like all prey animals, much of their behaviour is governed by a fear instinct. Over time their behaviour has evolved to evade detection and capture by predators.
When sheep sense pain, or life-threatening danger, they won’t cry out in pain or fear, to some people’s surprise. Instead, they remain silent, so as not to attract further predators. Some ill-informed farmers have suggested that performing operations such as castration, muelsing, or cutting tails off without pain relief doesn‘t cause sheep pain, since there is no audible evidence of their discomfort. But evolution tells us that nothing could be further from the terrifying truth.
Find out more things you didn't know about sheep.
Many sheep die on Australian farms from neglect, poor management and being introduced to into inappropriate climates. Lambs are also routinely subjected to crude and painful surgical procedures including castration, mulesing and tail docking—all without pain relief. And at shearing sheds sheep, who are not used to human handling, are roughly grabbed, pinned between a shearer's legs and can suffer cuts and grazes in the rush to shear as many sheep as quickly as possible.
There are no ifs or buts about it, if you buy ugg boots that means an animal died. Almost all wool sheep are killed before old age. In their final hours or days they are forced into trucks and hauled many long hours without access to food or water, only to have their throat slit at the slaughterhouse.
Sheep are intelligent, social animals. They can suffer just as much as any other. Wool and sheep skin are a cruel and bloody affair. So why waste your time with wool? Say good bye to your woolly wardrobe and give those Ugg-lies the boot.
With huge flocks, neglect of sheep on Australian farms can cause big problems for the animals. Disease, parasites, foot problems and lack of food during drought can all go unnoticed and unaddressed.
To prevent flystrike most merino Australian sheep are still mulesed—a large area of skin is cut from their backside without pain relief. This crude operation could be avoided by greater animal care, and selecting animals better suited to the environment.
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 the amount of wool, 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.