Lamb Production

Sheep pain relief petition gets 200,000-plus signatures

Terry Sim, September 18, 2019

NSW MLC Mark Pearson

PROPOSED New South Wales legislation mandating pain relief for sheep surgical procedures and the phasing out of mulesing will be supported by an international petition with more than 200,000 signatories this week.

NSW Legislative Council member and Animal Justice Party Mr Pearson will bring a bill to the NSW Parliament tomorrow that would make it an offence to mules sheep after 2021 and make pain relief mandatory for all surgical procedures where it is available.

But before the tabling of Mr Pearson’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animal Procedures) Bill 2019, digital marketing manager Marcel Woolfe will present the petition to Mr Pearson.

The petition was initiated by German filmmaker Joanna Michna, who said Mr Pearson would be the official messenger on behalf of Germans raising their voice for the welfare of Merinos in wool production. Ms Michna said the petition, up to this week, had generated 205,831 signatures since May this year.

“The majority are from German speaking countries — Germany, Austria, Switzerland — but through the English version of the petition as well from other countries like the United Kingdom, Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, the USA.”

Ms Michna said it was decided to continue the petition campaign until pain relief management has been successfully installed as mandatory by law, hoping that New South Wales and Victoria will be leading the way for the rest of Australia. Draft Prevention of Cruelty to Animals regulations in Victoria are also proposing mandatory pain relief for mulesing.

Petition is ‘crystal clear message’ on mulesing

German filmmaker Joanna Michna. Image – ZDFzoom.

Ms Michna said the petition response was “a crystal clear message” to Australian wool producers that mulesing is not perceived as an acceptable method to protect sheep from flystrike and less so without the use of pain relief management.

“Maybe it is time for the Australian wool growers and their associations to accept that consumers in fact are concerned about animal welfare and they will demand change.

“One has to have in mind as well, that mulesing is not a new topic and years have been lost protecting “traditional flocks” with great vulnerability to flystrike,” she said.

“It is about time to listen to the voice of the customers and start to transition flocks to sheep who are more adaptable to the Australian environment.”

Ms Michna said the necessity of mulesing is hard to explain to clothing retailers, brands and consumers.

“I imagine even if consumers would have extensive knowledge on to the complex environmental dangers in a sheep’s life like flystrike.

“It is just hard to understand that there should be no other solution than to ‘cut excess skin folds of baby lambs,’ even using pain relief,” she said.

“Of course, neither wool growers nor consumers want to have Merino sheep cruelly dying from flystrike either and a more intensive use of chemical interventions forbids itself with its negative impact on the ecosystem.

“In my opinion the only long term solution acceptable to abroad markets will be a transition to sheep better environmentally adapted and less susceptible to flystrike,” she said.

“But mandatory pain relief is definitely a most important step to protect the sheep while breeding programs are under way and also fundamental to all other surgical inventions on the sheep.”

Mr Pearson said he expected to introduce his bill tomorrow and in his speech would refer to the extraordinary number of petition signatures from Germany and USA.

“The world is watching.”

Mr Pearson said after he gives a speech of up to 40 minutes, debate on the bill will be adjourned until September 26 when the relevant minister and shadow minister and others will speak to it, after which it will go to a vote or held over until October 24. Mr Pearson is also working on a changed definition of mulesing as he said there is currently no definition in the Australian Capital Territory.

WoolProducers Australia has a policy to mandate pain relief for mulesing, but opposes Mr Pearson’s intention to include in his bill a prohibition on mulesing from January 2022. WPA president Ed Mr Storey has said for many Australian sheep and wool production systems mulesing with pain relief is a best practice animal welfare outcome.

To read an English version of the petition click here.



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  1. Dr Alissa Knight, September 21, 2019

    If an act such as mulesing would not be accepted as anything less than barbaric if performed on a human, the same ethical rights of humanity should be applied to other animals, such as sheep. Somewhere in the act of justice we as humans have failed miserably to apply any valid reason to perform such cruel acts to these animals. Somewhere in the act of being human, a large majority of us have forgotten how to be compassionate. The Animal Justice Party is the first line of hope I have seen in a long time. Please continue fighting for our animals. Being human does not permit the right to cruelty.

  2. Dean Benyon, September 19, 2019

    “One has to have in mind as well, that mulesing is not a new topic and years have been lost protecting “traditional flocks” with great vulnerability to flystrike,” she said.

    “It is about time to listen to the voice of the customers and start to transition flocks to sheep who are more adaptable to the Australian environment.”

    The above comments were copied from the post by Joanna Michna & cohorts.

    I wonder at these comments because she obviously has no idea of the environment, condition and or the commitment of Australian farmers to their livestock. They do care for their stock. They are their livelihood; their job of work is to care for these wonderful Merino sheep. I would like to show her the carnage blowflies are responsible for in hundreds of thousands of sheep when a big wet comes. Their agony and death are horrendous if they are not mulesed and I speak from 40-plus years as a Merino sheep farmer. Please explain why you are attacking these poor animals when mulesed sheep under anaesthetic will be protected for the full term of their life from such a horrible death as blowfly strike. Blowflies are not a disease — they are a killer pest in a most horrible way.

  3. Leanne Allan, September 19, 2019

    Should be compulsory.

  4. Donald Cameron, September 19, 2019

    The world has changed, consumers are rapidly becoming aware of mulesed wool due to animal activists. Results include wool buyers often paying significantly less for wool from mulesed sheep and increasing numbers of consumers requiring reassurance that their retail woollen products are not from mulesed sheep. Blind Freddie can see the that writing is on the wall.

  5. Edward H Wymer, September 19, 2019

    I asked my butcher 12 months ago if he had ever been asked about mulesing; he said no. I asked him again yesterday and he again said no. Who are these people who signed this petition?

    • Donald Cameron, September 22, 2019

      Reading the petition I’d hazard a guess many who signed were well-off, educated, sensitive types, the typical demographic that normally buys high quality woollen apparel.

      I’m not surprised your butcher doesn’t handle mulesing queries…try your wool broker.

  6. jacqueline foster, September 18, 2019

    Please make this compulsory.

  7. Joy Howard, September 18, 2019

    I have witnessed mulesing. It is a bloody and clearly painful procedure. There must be a better way to meet the dual objectives of disease prevention and animal welfare.

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