Mulesing: Legalised Mutilation and Torture

Sheep are highly unsuited to the Australian climate. In the Australian wool industry, Merino sheep have been selectively bred to have loose skin folds, as the increased surface area of the skin allows for an increase in wool production. The skin folds however, become sweaty and damp in summer. A combination of the weather and skin creates the perfect environment for flystrike, a painful condition for sheep, where fly larvae feed on the sheep tissue. To ‘save’ their sheep, farmers use mulesing, where the flesh around a sheep’s breech is sliced off, as this is where urine and faeces in the wool is most likely to attract flystrike. This process is often done without using anaesthetic.

Each year in Australia, approximately 20 million sheep experience mulesing, which is a prime example of how greed leads to barbaric acts of cruelty.

Due to pressure from animal activists, the Australian wool industry stated they would phase out mulesing by 2010. However, this hasn’t happened, and the fight to outlaw the barbaric practice is back on the agenda. With a number of alternatives, including selective breeding for sheep without skin folds, there is no reason except a lack of willingness to change that keeps mulesing in practice.

Mutilation without pain relief
    Sheep are restrained while their skin and flesh is sliced off. At the same time for convenience further mutilations of docking sheep’s tails and castration can occur. According to the Australian Wool Exchange, in 86% of cases this is done without pain relief, causing horrendous suffering.
      The RSPCA has stated sheep experience acute pain for up to 48 hours after the mulesing. The wound takes up to four weeks to heal and scar over, and during the healing process flies are attracted to the area, placing sheep at risk of infection.
        How effective is mulesing, anyway?
          Mulesing reduces flystrike in the breech area by reducing the chance of urine and faeces getting stuck in the wool, thus attracting blowflies. It does not, however, eliminate flystrike from the area altogether. Nor does it address flystrike on the rest of a sheep’s body, where the damp, sweaty folds of skin also attract blowflies.
            Around three million sheep die from flystrike in Australia every year.
              Welfare Issues
                Several million sheep die annually, from hyperthermia, starvation and disease, including an estimated 20% of lambs. It is inhuman to wrap ourselves in the wool of suffering animals, while there are alternatives available, that do not directly cause the freezing to death of sheep who have been shorn during the coldest months.