Mulesing ban action prompts warning to sheep breeders

Terry Sim, July 1, 2022

NSW MLC Mark Pearson

AUSTRALIAN wool producers have been warned not to align themselves with animal rights groups as plans are made to table a petition in the New South Wales Parliament to ban mulesing.

The petition calls for a complete phase out of mulesing in New South Wales by 2030, recognising the breeding sheep to negate the need for muesling can take time for some producers.

The petition also calls for mandatory pain relief during tail docking, castration and mulesing effective immediately are also included.

It will be tabled in coming months by Animal Justice Party MP Mark Pearson, who in the past has unsuccessfuly proposed legislation to phase out mulesing in the state.

Sheep Central was told the petition recieved more than 1500 signatures to date, surpassing the 500 needed to be tabled in the NSW Legislative Council.

The petition was launched after new footage was sent to Collective Fashion Justice by an ex-wool industry worker showing young lambs writhing and crying out in pain as their skin is hacked off with sharp shears.

FOUR PAWS UK has been invited to show this footage in the British Parliament, as Australian trade agreements are discussed and Mr Pearson has addressed parliamentarians on the issue.

Veterinary experts state that even with pain relief, mulesing causes distress and is unacceptable. The fashion industry and consumer attitudes are quickly shifting, as more brands pledge to stop using mulesed wool, and some choose plant-based alternatives.

Mr Pearson said the wool industry has known for decades that the public rejects “the horrific cruelty of mulesing, the most shocking mutilation of an animal.”

“Despite empty promises about change, mulesing remains the status quo.

“Left to regulate itself, the industry clearly won’t change, and that’s why we need legislation in place to commit to a ban on mulesing,” he said.

“The world is now looking in Australia’s backyard.

“Our nation must ban this cruelty or be left behind both socially and economically.”

Founding director of Collective Fashion Justice Emma Hakansson said viable and proven alternatives to mulesing exist.

“This cruel mutilation is not a necessary evil – it is archaic and must be phased out as quickly as possible.

“While a ban on mulesing is absolutely critical, it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” she said.

“The wool industry is wrapped up with sheep slaughter, live export and major environmental impacts, too.

“Wool knitwear labelled as ‘responsible’, ’sustainable’ and ’natural’ may be coming from young lambs just like those suffering in this footage,” she said.

“The fashion industry must recognise that the wellbeing of animals is a critical aspect of genuinely sustainable, ethical fashion.”

Ms Hakansson said the worker who sent Collective Fashion Justice this footage has risked their safety to protect lambs.

“We’re seeing more and more industry and ex-industry workers speaking  out about the violent treatment of thinking, feeling animals for the sake of fashion.”

WPA CEO hits back at FOUR PAWS’ intentions

After viewing slides from a recent Textile Exchange forum presentation by FOUR PAWS wool campaigner Rebecca Picallo Gil, WoolProducers chief executive officer Jo Hall said animal rights groups deliberately ignore the fact that Australian wool growers undertake a number of animal husbandry practices to enhance the lifetime welfare outcomes of their animals and that by calling for a ban on these procedures will ultimately result in adverse welfare outcomes for many sheep.

Click here to see slides from the FOUR PAWS presentation.

“FOUR PAWS have shown their true intentions regarding the future of the Australian wool and sheep meat industries.

“Not only are they calling for a ban on mulesing, but they are now working on trying to ban tail docking, castration and artificial insemination,” Ms Hall said.

“The bottom line is animal rights groups like FOUR PAWS do not want sheep and wool production to continue in any capacity.

“This should serve as a warning to those producers who have aligned themselves with animal rights groups to further their own individual production and management systems,” she said.

In 2020, the report ‘Towards a non-mulesed future,’ funded by funded by Humane Society International and FOUR PAWS, featured several non-mulesed Merino breeders outlining the benefits of breeding plain-bodied sheep that did not require mulesing. Click here to read the Sheep Central report.

“It’s a  pretty short-sighted view that will jeopardise the entire Australian wool industry when the long term goal of these groups is to ultimately shutdown all livestock production,” Ms Hall said.



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  1. Kara Nipperess, June 13, 2023

    Ban Mulesing and ban wool altogether. Sheep are prey animals and are terrified.
    We need to leave animals alone.

  2. Doug Wright, July 5, 2022

    The work has been done to breed sheep that do not need to be mulesed. This issue should have been solved across the industry by now. The market is screaming out for an increased supply of wool from non-mulesed sheep.
    Sheep producers that have gone down this pathway when using a breeding plan to achieve a plain bodied, wrinkle-free breeched Merino have found not only better markets and more lambs, but minimal losses and sheep that are easier to shear. A win all round and happier sheep.
    All this can be achieved by using the genetic solution.

  3. Don Mudford, July 3, 2022

    Congratulations to Andrew’s comments. Jo Hall’s comments are simply a tactic to try to stop debate on the issue. Shame on WPA for not helping the industry to go forward. No leadership, again. There are plenty of examples as to how to breed Merino sheep that don’t require mulesing. This is old school. Even faced with the wrinkliest Merinos, with modern genetics, there is no need for the progeny, if mated correctly, to be mulesed. If a Merino breeder mates rams to ewes and the progeny requires mulesing, management is the issue. The breeder is simply using the wrong rams. There are thousands of rams out there that will drive your flock to a mules free-flock. WPA just needs to come of age, get out and around your own industry. You are out of touch.

  4. Elizabeth Holworthy, July 3, 2022

    I suggest you people that perform mulesing, without any form of deadening the pain. Have a test run first to grade the pain level.

  5. Andrew Farran, July 1, 2022

    The fact that some anti-mulesing campaigners might go on to demand the cessation of some other wool growing practices is no reason not to support the abolition of mulesing per se. No other wool growing practice comes within cooee in terms of pain and brutality as mulesing.

    An effective alternative to mulesing is freeze branding, the application of liquid nitrogen to the area in the breech where flystrike occurs, which does not involve the cutting of flesh or the shedding of blood.

    Wool growers who refuse to accept facts in this regard will only have themselves to blame if the wool growing industry is eventually decimated through obstinacy.

    • Tim Leeming, July 5, 2022

      Freeze branding will not save the day and is simply another temporary solution for a problem that will continue to be there unless long-term breeding solutions are undertaken by sheep producers. The lack or urgency, the ignorance and lack of leadership in representative organisations is not only damaging to wool growers, but also to the broader sheep/red meat industry that gets dragged through the same gutter.

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