Skip to Main Content

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.
  • Liliana Closa says:

    We have to fight to stop mistreating these animals creatures of Earth and completely unheard!! We are the most despicable living creatures on the face of the Earth and we continue every day abusing these defenseless animals. We must work at making people stop!!! Liliana

  • jen says:

    While I am appalled at the inhumane treatment of these sheep I am equally appalled at all the comments where people are saying they are ashamed to be a human being and how one commenter even alludes to suicide because she just can’t take experiencing the pain of knowing about animal cruelty. Instead of selfishly shutting down or killing yourself get out there and do something positive to make a difference for the animals. You don’t help anything by doing nothing but crying about it! Of COURSE it’s sad and it does get overwhelming to realize what some humans are capable of doing to other living creatures. But for heaven’s sake not ALL people are bad and there is no reason to be so dramatic as to say you are disgraced by being a human being. ALL creatures including humans are here for a reason. Use your abilities as a human being to accomplish good in the world. PETA has to make their articles shocking to make anyone care about the issues and I’m not really saying that’s wrong sometimes that is what it takes to get through to people. But you also have to take a little step back when you read these things and stay connected to reality so that you don’t fall apart. Use the info they provide to get out there and DO SOMETHING that’s the point of it. Their point is not to make all humans look bad and say we’re worthless!

  • ioanna balaska says:

    enough allready….what a shame for the human race

  • Gerda van der Vegt says:

    I have an alergie agains wool so im never wearing wool. butt im shocked that this is happening in a good land as Australia they say always i love the animals en im taking good care of them…they really say im taking good care of my money…..and if a animal suffers….bad luck…. stupid people…thats what they are….God gave us animals to care for and to love them not to be cruel to…..

  • STM says:

    What few people commenting here seem to realise or appreciate is that the practice of mulesing which PETA so vehemently opposes is currently the only real protection against the virulent type of flystrike in Australia that is so vividly captured in the photographs above. Had those sheep been mulesed they wouldn’t be suffering flystrike. The environmental conditions in Australia are such that the conditions are ideal for flystrike at a pinch more so than anywhere else in the world. Indeed the risk is unique compared to other countries in terms of how great it is. As Aussie farmers keep saying the practice of taking a small bit of skin off the rear of a sheep has been shown to stop them from dying the horrific kind of death or living agony shown above. In short mulesing has been about from the very beginning the prevention of a cruel and horrible death for a sheep. That message seems to fall on deaf ears however. I agree there needs to be an alternative to mulesing but because of the unique environmental conditions in Australia that make flystrike so prevalent and such a dreadful risk to the animals there is more research to be done so that whatever the alternative is to mulesing it’s not something that’s being done halfcocked and doesn’t lead to even more chance chance of condemning animals to a horrible death at the hands of hordes of blow flies. Sad to say in reality those pictures are probably the best advertisement for mulesing ever. This is why in Australia it is done. Yes it causes some pain to the sheep … but I bet if they asked they’d prefer it to what you’ve shown above. PETA don’t shoot yourselves in the foot by contradicting your own public stance on this issue

  • Shally kour says:

    How could we humans be so cruel.For just our own use how could we hurt and put these animals in such a pathetic condition. we all must take some serious action and save these innocent animals….

  • Honesty says:

    Andrew we hear that line so is not in the farmers interest to let stock waste away as it would lessen profit! Although this claim appears sound it is without basis. Smoking kills but people still smoke. Not all animal farmers care about the animals they have. The man responsibile for this farm was approached and wasnt the least bit interested in the sheep and their suffering..and he was about 45 years old. Hardly an age unable to cope. The point is not how often this happens it is the fact it happens at all. Australian farmers have it so good they are well protected from prosecution by an animal charity which should be cleaning up farming instead of providing protection to those who use and abuse. Further the federal govt ensures that the farmer lobby groups are eard and again protected. State govts support farmers by ensuring laws which should protect animals actually protect farmers from prosecution. The animal welfare legislation in the various states are ambigious and rarely if ever enforced. If Australia wants to clean up its 3rd world image in animal protection then they need to listen to welfare groups not just farmer lobby groups who are all powerful. So to those who exposed this disgraceful farm thanks. To all of you who question the buying of Aust wool I suggest you boycott it in every way. By the way the lambs would not survive does anyone really think that the same farmer who allows this blatent cruelty to occur would actually bottle feed orphan lambs..gee get real.

  • Opal says:

    Thank you for telling me about this infoI will no longer by wool. Because of what this is horribly doing to sheep. I am vegetarian and have been since I was born.

  • Rioghann says:

    Hi I come from New Zealand Most of our export is lamb and I have also grown up around some farming lifestyles. This kind of behaviour is unacceptable but fly blown sheep and especially ewes is not uncommon if the farmer doesnt take the precautions to control and maintain his farm. I also work for a textile mill that makes woollen yarn used for carpets. In fact one of the biggest Woollen Mills in the world. So even though this is a horrible thing to see it is also “life”. How do you people think a sheep would get on in the wild? It would have no one person to even allow it to be euthanised if that was the case. This site is great for the disgusting things in life people do to animals but in this case this is life… I have a heart I am

  • katie says:


  • Elena Novak says:

    In response to Jan Graveson do you have contact information for the person to addressed in the Australian Government? If you do could you post it? I think if we all wrote to this persons we may make a difference. I think doing that would be by far more reasonable than to stop buying ALL wool products and destroying the livelihood of small scale farmers who produce beautiful wool without harming or disrespecting their sheep in any way. Thank you in advance for that information!

  • Christina Russell says:

    I am ashamed to be a human sometimes because we take advantage of other life forms so easily without even a thought. I hope in the future that animals will have their own rights and be treated with the respect they deserve.

  • SILVIA says:

    I can not understand people who do so much harm to animals just for money! Those poor sheep are suffering year after year that’s immoral and uncivilized that torture must end silvia italia

  • Beatriz - Brasil says:

    Unfortunately I trust that in my country things are not better for animals. But the fact that a developed country like Australia accpets it is more schoking. No more natural wool !!!

  • luciano labonne says:

    after seeing this i can belive that mens is so creul i feel very badwe have to stop that.

  • giovanna says:

    Thi is many horrifying! the cowards who do this to sheep are monsters! Giovanna Italia

  • j-man says:

    im pretty sure that mulesing stops flystrikebut not allbut i also think NO animal should be left like thathow can someone neglect an aniamil like?that is cruel beyond words!

  • varsha says:

    I dunno wat 2 say..! hw cn ppl b so horrific..!! argh..!x Its just so pathetic seeing all dis cruelty ….humans aint humans nemore..!

  • Sistah Vedge says:

    After seeing this I am done with wool unless it is currently on the sheep where it belongs. This situation is very sad and shocking and I can only hope that humans start seeing the folly of their cruel ways.

  • Dalyla says:

    I feel sick to my stomach!!!!!. I can’t believe these people could sleep. I can’t beleive these people could eat. I can’t believe these people could live there life doing this. I think that is so horrifying. How can people do such a thing to these Innocent animals? That just hurts!

  • Cynthia Smith says:

    I can’t not beleive how these animals are treated. It makes me sick to think that god put animals on this earth not to be treated like this.. These folks who hurts them need to had them what they did to them.. It makes us in the states cruel.

  • elizabeth says:

    This is just one more barbaric act that man inflicts on God’s creatures. If we aren’t torturing them in some way we aren’t living. Man is the most evil of all evil. I can’t imagine any thing being more evil. It is hard to believe that on this earth man who calls himself intelligent could do such horrible and unthinkable acts against others. I guess because they don’t look like us that gives us the right to torture them eat them make money off of them…you name we do it. And the funny thing that I can’t seem to get passed is we call ourselves human and we call them animals? Isn’t this backwards? When we do all of the killing and torture how can anyone feel good about what happens to any creature on this earth. Unless you have no morals or you are void of a soul. We are a sorry excuse of a species!

  • michele says:

    It makes me ashamed to be a human ! Heart Breaking ! Why ! Why ! Why ! do these people do such horendous things to Beautiful Animals creatures with as much a right to live a happy life as we humans do do they not understand Animals have thoughts feelings and a soul and feel pain . I shall not ever give up fighting for the rights of our Wonderful Animal Kingdom I send my Blessings to all of you are helping our Beautiful Creatures !!!

  • taty says:

    this is crazy!!!!! this is so cruel!!! why do people have the need to hurt animals so they can be worm or say wool is fashion. why can’t people treat animals with love care and respect. they have feeling they cry get cold hot hungry… they are so much like us. So treat them with respect. STOP THE KILLING! NOW!!!!!!

  • ell says:

    omg this is really mean sick …how can anyone ever let this happen to the sheep….it needs to STOP right now!

  • April says:

    Im so disgusted and hurt. These animals dont have a voice so we have to be that voice for them and make all this stop!!

  • HollyQ says:

    Disgusting! How could people be so cruel?

  • llyn humes says:

    I find it very hard to understand how a country like Australia who is supposed to be goahead and civilised can allow this to happen to innocent animals. The cruelty involved is shocking and the suffering caused to the sheep is appalling. Australia and the rest of the ‘civilised’ world would be the first to speak out if this was happening in a third world country so how can animals be reared in these prehistoris conditions with no checks? This is totallu unacceptable.

  • Roma says:

    That is absolutely horrible I had to wear sheep skin for half of last year for medical reasons and rarely wear that kind of wool. However you can’t say to everybody don’t buy woolen products there just needs to be better precautions taken by the producers of the sheep. It may be too expensive but you could you not kill the sheep by euthansia you know by the injection surely it would be kinder?

  • ashley (g) says:


  • Irene says:

    we have to fight for an international legislation to punish these behaviours through controls controls and controls…

  • Jan Graveson says:

    This is mutilation. It’s down to the public to proteset and DO NOT BUY these merino wool products. Write to companies that sell them in protest and urge the Australian government to stop this now!! These sheep have been genetically enigneered to produce more wool and this is the consequence of that. Does the hman race have the right to do this to any living creature? NO!

  • Iris says:

    I’ve stopped buying wool products years ago as part of my commitment to stop wearing and eating all animals. But I had no idea that the wool industry was so bad. That is absolutely horrifying! I’m going to write to the Australian PM… not just once but until this cruelty to animals stops.

  • Katie says:

    In reply to Brien Comerford Ugg boot makers DO allow mulesing. they have a really bad reputation for it and are probably one of the worst. flystrike is quite uncommon but mulesing is not. and Holly StinehartLichty it is not an isolated incident. this has been going on in australia for many years and will probably continue to do so. the only thing u can rele do is petition and not buy ugg boots just buy fakes. ugg boots are way too expensive for what they are anyway to be honest. P.S. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals PETA i think somebody wanted to know what it stood for. i dunno. just incase.

  • Renee says:

    I’m involved in a lot of fiber arts and I’ve seen farms where our wool comes from and the animals do not appear to have flystrike be neglected in any way or be exploited. I don’t understand why pictures from one farm where the owner is irresponsible should make us swear off of all wool everywhere?

  • Janet Davis says:

    You go Jessica above I couldn’t have said it better. This human race is full of sick son of a bitches who need the same treatment they give these animals I hate this world no wonder Jesus is going to destroy the dirty place. Then maybe the animals will have peace.

  • linda says:

    God gave us animals to protect and love not for us to torture. Get a life for those who torment the innocent animals. Animals were given to us and we are suppose to treat them like our loved ones not like a slave who gives you wool and you can just dump them aside to rot and die. You are all so heartless. Your heart are made of stone and can never ever be healed unless you stop killing animals. They have emotions which im sure you know. If you want their wool only you can easilt get them painlessly cause we have technology nowadays to help us. You guys make me so ASHAMED to be part of the human race. .

  • linda says:

    this is so revolting! those people are a DISGRACE to human beings. they’re not even worthy to call themselves HUMANS cause HUMANS DO NOT ABUSE TOTURE OR EVEN SELL THEM. ANIMALS HAVE FEELINGS IF THEY DIDNT KNOW. they make me so ashamed to be a human being. they can easily get their wool without even HURTING THE SHEEPS OR ANIMALS. God didnt create animals for us to torture but to help us. if i was an angel and knew what will happen to the animals i would have asked God to not create animals and let the huiman race die and rot to death! May God bless those pitiful animals. Amen.

  • Me'Chelle Ann Bump says:

    I just can’t live in a world that promotes cruelty. I don’t see things changing I see things getting far worse. Factory farms are proliferating and spreading overseas…and so is all the other animal cruelties..I just can’t take it anymore. I am sad and hurt all the time and most people just don’t give a damn even when confronted with the truth. Tell me how to have hope when I have see all this and things are getting worse not better.

  • Elena Novak says:

    Reading this story AND some of the comments brings a lot of saddness and disappointment into my heart. This horrifying practice MUST stop we humans should not be disrespectful to any other form of life. No I don’t believe human beings are any more “important” to the planet as any other animal or form of life I am saying this in response to one of the comments here. Our planet needs ALL of us animals plants insects microbs.. and we all need EACH OTHER. I am a strong supporter of PETA’s voice for animal rights but some times I find PETA’s actions extreme and borderline ignorant. Wool has been around for centuries and there are small scale farmers who pay respect and share love with their animals. Wool can be produced without torturing sheep. It is a natural ecologically friendly fire retardant. Wool is antibacterial by nature. It also happens to be the only natural means to a baby’s diaper cover because it is highly absorbant and self deodorizing and cleaning. Wool keeps our bodies cool in hot weather and warm in the cold. I made wool diaper covers for my infant and it is the only method of diapering that allows his skin to breathe as well as saves hundreds of trees. I certainly would not want to buy wool from a farmer who neglects hisher sheep allows such suffering practices such cruelty. My family would never knowingly support such horror. However let’s be reasonable and talk about the real change in the wool industry. What needs to change is the practice of producing wool. We must replace ignorance with attention cruelty with kindness and greed with gratitude of what we already have. I am not a vegetarian and I don’t believe that vegetarianism is a solution to anything. Humans are given canine teeth by nature these teeth are not meant for grinding corn. I do believe that we must be respectful and thankful for the animals who nourish us. Native Americans did not have slaughter houses they did not torture animals… they were not vegetarians either. Each successful hunt ended in a prayer and gratitude for the nourishment. The were highly trained and killed animals quickly and skillfully in order to nourish themselves and their children. Animals have a special place in American Indian culture they are messengers of god they are holy! I am thankful for PETA as the defender of animal rights. Please wake and see how intricate our world is and what we humans are meant to be. We are part of the animal world part of nature. Abandoning wool and vegetarianism are NOT solutions to ending cruelty and disrespect they will not necessarily bring harmony into our world. It breaks my heart to see some of the headlines and films from PETA and my heart is broken again when I seen what extreme and ignorant solutions are sometimes offered to such gruesome situations. Many people have negative perception of PETA because of some of these unreasonable onesided “solutions” and I would really love PETA’s work to be embraced by more and more people instead. My fatherinlaw thinks that I am a nut for supporting PETA the radical organization as he calls it. He is educated but he doesn’t get it… he doesn’t see the issues at play and he doesn’t see the compassionate solutions to them. Please don’t turn more and more people away from your causes by ignoring the real issues for the animals us humans included and for our planet!

  • Elizabeth says:

    All these posts make me feel at home. Most of all these posts like staying up at night crying thinking that humans are terrible etc. are what I have been thinking since I was a child. What the hell is the matter with us???

  • Cheryl says:

    Andrew said “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…” Andrew what about professional veterinary treatment instead of crudely mutilating your sheep without benefit of anesthesia or disinfectants? If you’re not making enough money in the wool biz for that maybe it’s time for a different career field!

  • Erik says:

    Sickening that the word I have. How can people do this or let this kind of thing happen? God creatures are beautiful God is watching. His wrath will come and then what? We deserve it. Heck last time I checked animals don’t litter do hate crimes carry hand guns etc….they just want to have a great life just like you and me especially for the kids of the future. Shame on you but like they say I firmly believe you might laugh but you reap what you sow in other words…what goes around comes around. Peaceout!

  • Annabel Cuthbertson says:

    I am sorry but your comments to look at the other side of this are to me very selfish and totally anthropogenic with no backing other that you obviously think that humans come first and foremost. You put the arguement forward for possible extinction of Merinos but the population is un natural to start with as they are not wild but bred for human consumption. It is better they were never born to such a harrowing life of pain and at the mercy of heartless people who I find are too wrapped up in themselves to look at the pain they cause other living creatures.

  • Laura says:

    How can anyone try and defend a farmer or a person who inflicts this kind of pain onto an animal? ANY animal? These animals shouldn’t be farmed in the first place. They are not here to be farmed so it doesn’t matter if it is RARE or if it is COMMON animals are not there for anyone to make money from. Any wonder there is a draught in Australia… What goes around comes around. Good bye farmers!!!!

  • Samantha Rankin says:

    Have you ever thought of looking at the other site of this? If there are no Merino’s then there is only 1 type of sheep. Genetics will come into play even more and the animal will become extinct. Do you really want to have this on your head? I agree flystike is horrible and I believe most farmers check their animals daily and normally prevent this. There will be the farmer who doesn’t do this but it’s not just farmers who neglect living things. Dog cat horse cow and any other animal owner PLUS humans look at how many people don’t look after their kids properly. You need to angle this differently and target the BAD farmers who don’t care about their animals otherwise there will be little to no wool which keeps us warm and for non vegetarians it’s a source of their diet. PLEASE reconsider how you angle this campaign before you kill this breed of sheep off and then sheep as a whole.

  • katherine whitten says:

    what i can’t figure out is how australia’s prime minister will come out and say to all the different races in “his” country if they don’t like it there to leave. granted he does have a point but maybe he should clean up his own “back yard” before hollering his head off like taking care of “his” animals instead of acting like a 3rd world country who don’t seem to know that yes animals do feel pain.

  • Jade says:

    Please do not totally boycott wool. Instead support small farmers who take good care of their sheep and are struggling as it is. Boycott large mass producers fine but don’t make life harder by not taking the time to distinguish small farmers from mass companies.

  • Helen Clark says:

    Why didn’t they contact the RSPCA or the police? It is illegal to treat animals like this and most sheep farmers like me would be horrified at such neglect. I have never mulesed and look after my sheep as they are like family. Why am i being persecuted because of one persons horrendous neglect

  • karen says:

    I own some St. John Knit suits all wool very expensive. I would like to know if PETA has ever had a chance to speak with representatives from St. John? I beleive they are in PasadenaCA the clothes are all made in the USA. The attraction is high end design wear like iron separates that match dye lot in black and pack ability for travel. These are “boardroom quality” suits. If PETA spoke to them maybe they could police their sources. Sheep can be humanely sheared. Thank you