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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.
  • irena says:

    I’ve seen a lot of awful videos in my time but this one made me cry harder than ever. I am disgusted with the human race as a whole if there was an easy way to escape it I would. I don’t hope that the people that impose such cruelty are punished because they know no better…I just hope that in the future ‘knowing no better’ is no longer a valid excuse.

  • Alice Fraser says:

    Hello I never buy wool and we should send meat over to the middle east instead of live sheep. We need to make some major changes to slaughterhouses in the middle east. Like putting in CAK and replace people with machines and workers should go to jail for abusing animals.From Alice

  • nopi says:

    i am so disappointed in this photos im frum the bahamas i am so compassionate about these animals i am sad to see that these people on GOD living earths will actually take another life even thou it is an animal i watch keeping up with the kardashians and wen saw tha khloe was goin to do the photo shot about id rather be naked than were fur i was so shocked to see wat they did wit them poor animals i started to cry !!!!!!!!!!! i am going to become a vegatarian

  • mitchell says:

    I’m sickened by the disgusting cruelty and heartlessness of those neglectful people who did nothing to prevent or ease the suffering of these animals. they should go to jail for allowing this to happen.

  • L says:

    Raj your comment doesn’t make sense. “In a world that is always in an economic struggle killing wool sheep is just illogical.” How do you come to the conclusion from this that we should keep the wool trade? The wool trade is killing sheep not that people trying to stop it. All sheep die. But not all sheep have to live the miserable life and die the miserable death described above. “Assuming that is we don’t force them to live.” That’s exactly what we’re doing to them by using and breeding them for wool. Do you not see that? You’re just not making sense. I like your point on evolution but the conclusion you draw from that is shortsighted. To those who think this is an isolated incident do your homework already. You’re trying to give the benefit of the doubt to the human exploiters rather than to the nonhuman victims why? If you heard that female sex slaves in Turkey were treated like no more than pieces of flesh for men’s amusement would you say “I want to make sure only these sex slaves are treated like this”? I apologize if that’s not the best example but you get the idea. Sheep are the property and therefore the “slaves” of humans. The only way it would be ethical to “use” animals is if we treated them like persons like employees and I don’t know how possible that is. I do however know that the simplest solution is veganism because it means giving the benefit of the doubt to the animals themselves and not to the humans who have every capacity to abuse them.

  • ceres says:

    i gotta disagree with the headline. someone is doing something very bad. but it’s not the consumers fault. if it’s leather we are talking about then it’s obvious that the consumer can’t get it without harming animals. but no statement is made against getting the wool itself. so IMHO the fault is at the producers who should simply treat the sheep better

  • Circe says:

    Raj for correction the species of flies that infect sheep and cause flystrike are not those used to heal wounds and clear dead tissue these flies generally greenbottle flies quite literally lay eggs in small wounds and moist or dirty wool after which the maggots proceed to eat the animal alive. Leaving them on the sheep would had caused unimaginable suffering to the sheep as the flies ate away their skin and eventually their muscle. Check out this link httpwww.smallstock.infoinfohealthflystrike.htm

  • Farren says:

    This goes out to all those girls wearing UGGS or Emu’s

  • Emily says:

    Dont these cruel people have hearts?!

  • Raj says:

    . well… it was a good read. A few thing bother me though. While the Mulesing is perfect evidance that we as people are not the brightest lot. I see no way that they are butchered in the way written above. In a world that is always in an economic struggle killing wool sheep is just illogical. Also alot more lives could have probably been saved had they not tried to cut the areas infected by the maggets in the first place. Maggets have been used for centuries to heal damaged tissue and letting them do their job would probably made this topic a mute point. And just because I’m speaking outside what most of what most here will think is right and probably be flamed in about… oh two minutes assuming someone reads this post The Genetic Breeding that everyone has been complaining about for the last decade or so… Yes it is wrong has happed and so long as people have money to change the world around them will continue to be done. With all the things man does we have taking the blessing of thumbs from the noble purpose of survivel and used them to change the world. Moaning about it now though is pointless. viewing as such we should look at these new breeds in a natural way now. With time comes evolution and mutation. If the animal is flawed by evolution or man’s hands nature will in time root them out. Assuming that is we don’t force them to live.

  • Amber Falobas says:

    I’ve never been a fan of wool or sweaters at all they are itchy hot and uncomfortable!! I feel really bad for these sheep after looking at these pictures and even more now I really hope Australia stops mulesing! I mean Steve Irwin a great animal person came from australia…I bet he’s looking down from heaven and saying “damn farmers…!”

  • Helana says:

    I am apalled at how people hurt animals like this in cold blood. Its so hard to understand how you can look into any animals innocent soulful eyes and then hurt it. Most people will argue with this statement when it comes up but thats exactly like hurting a child under the age of 8. Defenseless and uninformed about the cruelty and pain the grown world can cause. This is just terrible and I’m glad saints like PETA are working to stop things like this.

  • Sean says:

    Dont sheep need there fur cut off? im saying it would be realy realy warm in ther wouldnt it? i am from wales in the uk so i see sheep every day and they are treeted well in big spaced enviroments and its all good as far as im concerned ther

  • David says:

    Hello Jack Rawlings. These are not isolated incidents I’m afraid. Merino sheep are not indigenous to Australia. They were transported here from Spain from memory during colonialism. As for the “drama” well I’m afraid the drama you speak of is a reality. Fly blown sheep are a regular daily occurrence in Australia with or without mulesing. If you want to buy ethically I would suggest that you buy wool from sheep which have not been so abominably brutalised. Australia’s sheep industry pledged to phase out mulesing. I see no evidence of them honouring that pledge. Profits are paramount to this industry cruelty is their name. Cheers

  • Gaia Watch says:

    With respect Rev. Meg humans are responsible for the extinction of many defenceless native animal and bird species. Urban development encroaches on and destroys native habitats humans poison feral animals creating secondary targets in nonferal animals. The bait used in Australia is 1080 a very cruel poison where the animal can take days to die in agony. Humans have destroyed native vegetation poisoned rivers oceans and soil and destroyed the forests on which many animals depend. Humans are trashing the planet’s biodiversity. I believe the animals will do very well after humans leave this planet since animals take only what they need. Hopefully despite the wrath of Planet Earth she may leave a few breeding pairs of humans for a new age where hopefully homo noeticus enlightened humans will evolve to a far greater vibrational level than we homosapiens.

  • andrew says:

    I am a wool producer and sheep breeder and although I agree with a lot of the comments above I wonder if these people know exactly why some sheep are mulesed? The sheep business cuts fairly close to the line economically and I am not going to waste money on mulesing a sheep that doesn’t need it but if it does then I am condeming it to a death like the sheep photoed above if it is not treated.There is no joy in doing this procedure but for some it is a necessity to save their life later on. Equally so is removing their tail as a baby month old lamb

  • Carole says:

    At sixy four you should be able to say “I’ve seen a lot of good changes in my life regarding animal wellfare” It saddens me to say instead “Nothing has changed” People still buy eggs from battery farms still don’t care how animals suffer so we can ‘dress’ or ‘eat’ or ‘use’ them in some cruel way.

  • jonathan goodman says:

    Is it really necessary to forego wool in order to prevent these crimes? Is Australia the only wool producing country? Could wool from other countries be used and only Australia sanctioned for their barbarism? I am willing to give up wool if it will help but is it necessary?

  • Jake Sage says:

    This is sick but far worst things happen to humans on a daily basis!!!! Who is more important an animal or a human being. Seriously people get real!!!!!

  • Robson Nascimento says:

    This atrocity will end only when we all stop buying wool leather etc. Let’s work together to put an end to animal cruelty!!!!!

  • beth says:

    This Is SICK must stop! I wonder sometimes… “How can people go to work torture defenceless animals think nothing of it? HOW CAN THEY SLEEP AT NIGHT???”

  • tiffany trentino says:

    Peta I want to thank yu for openng my eyes to so much. I am a big animal lover more than words can explain. I no longer eat meatand now will not wear anything that comes from an animal. Until seeing these horrific acts of crulety on your web site. i had no idea these thing occured like they do. I cry evertime i watch one of these films but i feel compeled to continue watching. I have such a stong desire to make a differance. Thank you Tiffany Trentin

  • AAG says:

    Certainly not an Easter card cover!!!! Love sheep and to see this is just too paainful!!! Want to really help sheep and other creaturesgo vegan!!!!!!

  • Vivienne says:

    We keep hearing about farmers “caring for their livestock” but these and other cases show the contrary! Farmers need to take more care of their animals. Sheep don’t belong in our climate anyway.

  • Kate says:

    Um ya add anouther reason to the list Most things in wool are unstylish. Sweaters make people look like a grandma no offence to grandmas. Note to people of the world Wool is not in style it hasn’t been for a long time and will likely not be for a very long to come if ever.

  • John Foley says:

    Everyday in my school I see girls wearing Uggs and braging about their over priced animal skins. If they only knew…

  • Jack Rawlings says:

    I’m new here and have a few questions. Other than simply animal rights can anyone tell me the general theme to PETA supporters. Such as “we don’t eat animals” we don’t kill animals for….. I’m interested to hear a little more well without the drama. I feel that animal cruelty is bad but using animals wool isn’t all that bad. After all I’ve seen plenty of sheep that don’t receive the same poor treatment as the few above. Is anyone open to the idea that this may be an isolated incident? Just wondering!

  • Holly Stinehart-Lichty says:

    I was appalled to read of the gross neglect and horrific treatment of these wonderful animals on PETA’s front page. Humans who are capable of inflicting such suffering on creatures have maggots too…they reside in their heart and spirit.

  • Ruth Hidalgo says:

    It makes me stop eating meat. I do not wear wool only in Wintertime and I keep the same sweater for years. I hope other people would do it alike. I am ashamed that human beings can treat animals like this. I could cry and cannot watch these videos fully… Lots of Love from Switzerland Ruth

  • Peta fan says:

    Australia is usually nice to their sheep. Sheep also need their wool to be trimmed to avoid skin problems that matts can cause. This is only what happens when people ignore their sheep. I hope sheep farmers learned a thing or to from seeing this page.

  • vegancoin says:

    absolutely ghastly cruel and inhumane. i also wonder wtf is wrong with the human race this idea of torturing and barbarically abusing animals day in day out for imagined gain and profit is inhumane and unrealistic.

  • Cara says:

    This is SSSSOOOOO sick and wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rev. Meg Schramm says:

    Humans do cause most of the pain in this world but they also do a lot of good. Ingird Newkirk is a fine example of this. I don’t think you hate all humans do you Ms. Newkirk? For those who would like to see what planet earth will be like after we leave it I recommed an excellent series on the history channel “After People” which they are now rerunning. One of the things they bring up is the die off of many species of animals because there are no longer humans around to prevent it.

  • Elisabeth says:

    This is DISGUSTING! Sheep are sweet wonderful beings. I am so proud to be vegan! I’ve noticed that many chapsticks and possibly lipsticks including products by The Body Shop and Burt’s Bees contain ‘lanolin’. Make sure you read the content label of anything you plan on purchasing.

  • David says:

    I am an ashamedly Australian and I assure you Australia’s treatment of livestock is barbaric. The Meat and Livestock Association collude with Australian governments and the brutality of defenceless animals continues not least the heinous export of sheep and cattle to the barbarians in the Middle East. In addition surgical procedures are performed on fully conscious animals in Australia without the benefit of painkillers. This industry is a powerful lobby group and will stoop to any measure to increase their grubby profits. Spare a thought for our animals please.

  • Honesty says:

    Hi Yesenia Vallejo The boots you speak of are made of the skin of the sheep. It is quite probable in fact highly likely that the sheep were mulesed and it is indeed possible that they suffered flystrike somewhere on their body at sometime in their lives. Any product made of wool or the skin and wool of a sheep supports the brutal treatment of the animal so for those of who who buy Aust woolyarn or boots or any sheep product from Australia you either unwittingly or knowingly support animal abuse.

  • lily says:

    i’m 12 years old and already a vegan this is so my favourite website i’m showing all my friend. thank you so much for making me aware of the horible treatment to sheep. it makes me so very sad.

  • jessica says:

    That is horrible. It’s so wrong. I don’t know how anyone can be so heartless and do that to such innocent animals. Animals deserve so much better than that.

  • Lorraine Brooke-Sumner says:

    Shocking! I thought this type of thing only happened in 3rd worl countries call yourselves civilized?This would not happen here in Africa oin a 3rd world country. You should be ashamed

  • Jessica says:


  • Bibi says:

    This is so cruel inhumane and uncivil. How can anyone treat an animal like this? This has got to stop!

  • Karin says:

    Ignorance is not bliss. I just bought 8 balls of wool yarn unaware of what sheep endured for my knittingcrocheting projects. I’m so repulsed by this I don’t even want to touch the yarn anymore.

  • roxanne says:

    I am not buying any Australian wool. that is for sure

  • Jodi says:

    Thanks to PETA I am now a vegetarian. I will not buy leather products as well. I am not shocked anymore on human treatment of animals. It is sad and unfortunate that animal abuse occurs. It keeps me up at night crying knowing animals are tortured. It physically hurts when I think about what happens to animals on a daily basis around the world. It has effected me so severly I have made a decision not to have children I don’t want my children child to see or feel the pain the human beings cause.

  • Yesenia Vallejo says:

    I do not know if this is a stupid question but do you know if the company Uggs uses methods like these?

  • Brien Comerford says:

    The climate and nature havens in Australia are wondrous. Unfortunately it is a nation that does have a powerful animal rights lobby. Very few of their celebrities speak up for animals. Some are humane animal loving vegetarians including The Seekers’ Judith Durham Silverchair’s Daniel Johns and The Church’s Steve Kilbey.

  • Heather says:

    That last picture.. X Ugh.. Things NEED to change for these poor sheep badly. In the meantime no one I know is going to be supporting wool aussie or otherwise.

  • Petula Bloomfield says:

    Thank you for this info. I am shocked and horrified and would like to know more about whether there are places that produce wool without any harm to the animals

  • VALERIE says:


  • Raina says:

    i think that is so horrifying. How can people do such a thing to these animals? That just hurts!