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Australian Sheep Neglected and Dying

Written by PETA | April 15, 2009

If you haven’t given up wool yet, here are five reasons to make that commitment to animals now: Faith, Lily, Mae, Pete, and Lucy. These are some of the sheep whose suffering was documented by a group of concerned Australians who have been wrangling with do-nothing authorities to help a horribly neglected flock.


This is Faith before and after treatment for flystrike.


The investigators photographed the bodies of dead and dying sheep around a Smeaton, Australia, property. One of the carcasses was contaminating the only readily available water source for the living sheep.

Many of the sheep on the property are being eaten alive by maggots. This condition is called “flystrike,” and it is preventable with proper attention and care. In Australia, sheep farmers use a barbaric mutilation called “mulesing” in a crude attempt to prevent flystrike, but it did not help Pete or Lucy, who had advanced flystrike and died soon after the group found them. Lucy had one of the worst cases of flystrike that one investigator had ever seen: “Severely fly struck she was close to death and of course extremely distressed. She was panting hard, eyes wide with terror but unable to rise. Lucy had been mulesed, however like millions of other sheep in this country still suffered the horrors of flystrike.”


Lucy’s flystrike was so debilitating she couldn’t get up off the ground.
Flies were eating away at Pete.


After repeated attempts to get the Department of Primary Industries to take action, local citizens attempted to help some of the ewes on the Smeaton property who had babies who depended on them for survival. Faith’s injuries were successfully treated, but Lily and Mae had to be taken to a veterinarian and euthanized. Their lambs are unlikely to survive without them.


Lily’s leg had been eaten away.
Mae’s hindquarters were a typical result of flystrike.


The appalling conditions on the Smeaton farm are not an isolated case of neglect and abuse. Domesticated sheep are vulnerable to flystrike because they have been bred to have wrinkly skin that produces an unnatural amount of wool. Breeding for “bare breech” is one option that would make sheep less vulnerable, but, in Australia, which produces 30 percent of the world’s wool, the vast flocks of sheep cannot be given the individual care and attention necessary to prevent flystrike and other illnesses. After enduring these conditions, Australian sheep are crammed onto filthy boats for live export to the Middle East—a trip that many do not survive—where they are dragged to slaughter and have their throats cut while they are conscious and struggling.

The best way to help Australian sheep is to avoid buying any wool, as it is difficult to know where wool originates. Urge the Australian prime minister to make this kind of cruelty to lambs illegal.

Written by Heather Drennan

Commenting is closed.
  • mitch says:

    MULESING IS GOOD FOR THE SHEEP IN THE LONG RUN look at a two year old mulesed sheep compared to a non mulesed two yeyar old. I agree muelsing at the time is very very painfull but it benifets everyone the sheep don’e have to put up with maggots eating them alive farmers don’t have to spend as much money by crouching so often and last but not least the people who were woolen products. I rest my case

  • eva says:

    this is soooooooooooo sick how can these people live with themselves i about cried when i saw these pictures!!!!!!

  • greta says:

    i cant beleive theyre doing this to poor innocent animals. thats just sick and wrong. im neverbying any wool ever again. i cant beleive the animals could get to such a state of distress! i hope all animal cruelty organisations are shut down so animals can havve even the slightest bit of peace in the world

  • Shannyn says:

    For the record not all of Australia’s sheep are treated like this… Most of them are treated really nicely.. Just like pets I guess you could say. Yeah it’s cruel and inhumane what these people have done but don’t just point the finger at Australia because I’m pretty sure that there’s a few people in other countries who do disgusting things like this too. Thanks muchly.

  • melissa walsh says:

    DO YOU ALL KNOW THAT IF SHEEP WERENT SHEARD that they would suffer pain but what austriala does is inhumain. but if they would do it the right way it would be no more painful than a hair cut to the human.

  • Andy Gilfillan says:

    I’m a sheep farmer from Australia.We have about 5000 sheep every year a small percentage die. The rest have a wonderful life until we sell them for slaughter. This is done before they suffer from old age. The sheep in the photos have been fly struck because of the dung that has collected on the rear end the farmer has been negligent and the farmer is a hobby farmer Evidenced by names for the sheep If you are concerned about animal welfare you need to target the newhobby farmers with there 10 sheep. Th rest of us are providing the cleanes greenest safest environment for animals on the planet.

  • preeti says:

    we human beings are getting cruel day by day.When will all this cruelty end

  • María Án says:


  • Doug says:

    These are horrible images they are caused by neglect. BUT they in NO way represent the vast majority of sheep farms in Australia. Where all their sheep are cared for like pets. These images are misleading and slanderous.

  • Gail says:

    I live on a sheep farm and only stupid farmers who don’t check their stock at least once a day have their shhep die from flystrike. I have had sheep who have had flystrike but we have treated them and they didn’t die. To stop a sheep from getting flystrike you have yo shear or crutch them in the summer. Not all sheep live a sad life…

  • Michelle says:

    I am not a violent person and never have been. When I see things like this it not only makes me sad but very angry. I don’t know how any human with half a brain could make sense of leaving an animal any animal in such a state. It makes me sick to know that humans are the superior being the most intelligent of all living beings. If we are so damn intelligent then where is the sympathy the judgement of wrong and right the ethics? I already like animals more than I like people. Find your compassion! What the hell is wrong with people? I just don’t understand!

  • Jess says:

    It always makes me so ashamed to be Australian when I hear about mulesing. There are other methods of flystrike prevention but still it remains legal and widely used.

  • tamara says:

    Thanks for the info. As upsetting as it is this info has to get out to the public.

  • Sandra Deneault says:

    Stop your horrors I am dropping WOOL….Their are materials that keep us even warmer. D’ont ever forget this message…