I’m writing to you in response to your investigation ‘Inside the Wool Industry’.
Within the first sentence you state that ‘without human interference, sheep grow just enough wool to protect themselves from temperature extremes.‘
While that statement may have been correct before human interference, it certainly is not at this point in time. Domestic breeds, such as merino, will continue to grow their wool at great lengths. Only a select few mountainous breeds of sheep will shed their own wool. If the wool is not removed from those who do not shed, the sheep can suffer:
- The weight of the excess wool is added stress to their limbs which can reach a certain point where the animal is no longer able to stand back up after laying down. This prevents it from reaching food, water or shelter and, in extreme cases, consequent death.
- Heat exhaustion can result from the excess layer during the summer. Imagine wearing a thick, woolen jumpsuit in 30+ degree heat. Heat effects sheep just like a human being.
- Fly strike can worsen with excess wool. Faeces and urine stick to the wool surrounding the area, attracting flies and resulting in ‘fly blown’ wool or ‘fly strike’. Flies lay eggs within the wool and the maggots, once hatched, will bury themselves further into the wool and eventually underneath the skin and feed off their flesh. They are literally eaten alive. It is much harder to treat or prevent fly strike with excess wool.
In this day and age, sheep do need to be shorn. If you want to boycott the farming of wool, what do you suggest we do with the sheep that are still alive now? How can they survive if we don’t shear them? How can farmers pay for their food or the land they live on without selling their wool? Wouldn’t this result in a mass culling of sheep, thus contradicting your beliefs?
In your video, you claim that you visited 19 sheds over 3 states. You believe that visiting a SMALL number of sheds over a massive area proves what is normal activity in the shearing industry. I’m here to tell you that the behaviour depicted in your video is not normal and is most certainly not tolerated within a decent shearing team. We understand that sheep are living, breathing and feeling animals. We also understand that without them, we wouldn’t have our jobs. We understand their importance to farmers in providing their livelihood. A decent shed staff member would not commit an act of cruelty towards an animal. If you travel further around Australia to a higher number of shearing sheds, you will see differently. I would be more than happy to give you the contact details of contractors, farmers and shearers who would be willing to prove to you that we are also actively against the cruelty of sheep.
You also state in your video that the sheep is dragged out by its hind legs. Yes, that is true. Do you have a better suggestion? Do you believe that a sheep will just walk out of the pen, stand there and willingly let a human shear its wool without any reaction? I certainly hope not.
This industry has developed as best as it can. Yes, there could be some improvements but we are all willing to work towards them. Your under-researched campaigns launched by uneducated individuals is not a solution, it is causing more of a problem. You as an organisation do not have a clear understanding of sheep or the wool industry. Obviously, the wool is over your eyes. I suggest you conduct better research before taking a stand against something you know very little about.