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Broken Body, Brave Heart

Written by PETA | September 9, 2007

This story was being considered for a web feature, but I grabbed it for the blog because I found it to be incredibly moving. Please share Marcie’s story with your friends and family who still wear wool . . .

When a PETA member found Marcie languishing at a decrepit Colorado farm, she was sick, frightened, and going blind. She had been used as a breeding machine her entire life, and had endured the anguish of having all of her babies taken away as soon as they were born, sometimes even to be killed right in front of her.

Sheepster.jpgAfter the farmer agreed to relinquish Marcie, she was taken to the Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, a refuge for abused and neglected animals. There, for the first time in her life, Marcie knew kindness instead of cruelty. She was given wholesome and plentiful food and the veterinary care she so desperately needed. But Marcie, shell-shocked and traumatized by her past, never fully recovered.

Despite the best of care, the damage was done: Marcie lost her sight within a year of her rescue. She was terrified of people—it was a year before shelter staff could even touch her—so she sought comfort and security among the goats at the sanctuary. In an effort to “hide,” Marcie camouflaged herself in the resident goat herd, forging a fast friendship with her bovid cousins.

In her final years, Marcie found contentment and peace. But for millions of sheep farmed for their wool, there is no happy ending.

Ear_tagging.jpgIn Australia, where most of the world’s wool comes from, the misery for sheep begins when they are only weeks old. In a misguided attempt to prevent maggot infestation, or flystrike, farmers carve huge chunks of skin from the backsides of millions of lambs a year—without any pain relief—in a crude mutilation called mulesing.

For 200 years, Australian farmers have intentionally bred, and continue to breed, merino sheep who have extra wrinkly skin because more skin means more wool and more profits. This extra skin collects moisture, urine and feces and attracts blowflies which lay their eggs in the wrinkly folds of skin. The hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. Rather than spend the extra time and money on effective and humane methods to prevent flystrike, many farmers choose to simply cut the wrinkly skin off from the backside of lambs because it is cheaper and easier than caring for them properly.

Live_Export.jpgShearing is also a painful, frightening ordeal. Shearers are usually paid by volume, not by the hour, so they work as quickly as possible, leaving sheep bruised and bleeding. The untreated wounds can attract flies and become infected. Terrified sheep who don’t “cooperate” are often beaten and kicked into submission. When they are no longer profitable for their wool, Australian sheep are often shipped thousands of miles to the Middle East, where they are dragged off trucks by their ears and legs, kicked in the face, and have their throats slit while they are still conscious.

So, what can you do? Please, don’t ever buy any wool. Choose cotton, acrylic, polyester fleece, and other durable, stylish, and warm fabrics. Find sources of animal-friendly clothing at the PETA Mall and in our cruelty-free clothing guide. And click here for more ways to help.

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  • Pedlar says:

    Ana. I don’t think it is right for you to discriminate against the millions of people who’s culture andor religion allows them to eat meat. As a meat eater I respect your choice. You need to do the same and realize these farmed sheep as well as other animals only have life at all BECAUSE they are bred for a reason. Contrary to popular belief it is against a farmers best interest to mistreat their livestock. Ethically and in the interests of profitability farmers NEED to breed good stock and this means not stressed or mistreated. The ones making the profit from the wool and meat industries are the governments and the big companies that screw farmers down to a barely profitable price forcing farmers to live in poverty while continuing their passion for the land and as providers of food and clothing for millions of humans.

  • Ric says:

    I agree with WolfieRojoand Ferretboy. If the farmer didn’t take care of his sheep they would get sick and die. A sick ewe won’t give birth to lambs. She will abort.The farmers value is in healthy ewes and a ram. his income is in the lambs and the wool. the lambs are sold at about 10 months old. the sheep are only sheared once a year in the spring. Sheep are cut once in a while during the shearing process. If the contracted shearer cuts to many sheep the farmer will hire someone else the following year. The farmer does not ship the sheep to the middle east. He usually sells them at auction. a brocker buys them to fill a contract he has entered into. What does a farmer sell? He sells weathersthey don’t return enough money to keep longer than it takes to raise them to market weight10 months. Ewes that are barren only give birth to single lambsinstead of twins. Ewes that reject their lambs. and any animal that is too old to sustain itself. The notion that farmers don’t care if his animals are sick or in pain is wrong. As for Marcy the sheep that was “terrified” befor it was rescued. Just because a sheep is around a human doesn’t mean it is terrified. They instinctivley know that we are predators. Their genetics tell them to stay away from us.

  • Ferretboy says:

    Wolfies brother has a really good point. He at least has his facts right. Many fo you should follow his lead and know what your talking about before condemning the wrong people

  • keith says:

    Ferretboy. sadly you have your facts wrong? during my misguided animal welfare years I have been privy to Aussie Kiwi practises involving contract shearing and contract slaughter operations including musling Both not pretty sites.

  • Ferretboy says:

    Actually Michele i wasnt saying that taking stirps off a sheep is less painful than taking of chunks. If you read what i said I meant that they way you people are portraying what museling actually is. If i didnt already know what museling was and i read this i would picture a butcher with a massive knife stabbing a sheep to death. And yes all wounds which are inflicted in any way are treated and disinfected. The sheep are looked after. And Keith you dont need to have wroked on one of these farms go to one and you see it plain and simplethese sheep are cared for. These farmers are facing so many difficulties. Drought is getting really bad in Australia. Farmers are being forced to seel of there animals just so they can keep their houses. The animals are running low on drinking water aswell and crops failed in the last few years meaning less food. I not saying I ‘support’ museling but I do support a way in which flystrike can be stopped. If we just left these sheep tp grow wool they would all get flystrike and die. Farmers dont have the money as i have already said they are living in drought having to sell off animals and living in poverty for these alternatives. I agree with Wolfie and Rojo on this one sorry everyone else.

  • Wolfie's Brother says:

    I have worked with sheep and mulesing isnt as bad as you say. Would you rather sheep to be barly able to walk breath or eat for half their lives or just have some small bits of skin removed where the pain would only last for 2 hours at the most? The wounds received from shering sheep would only be as bad as cutting yourself with a shaver. The way you’re describing the wounds they get is like the farmer is delibaratly driving the shaver into the sheep where the sheep would have to be tied still but they’re not. The farmers know almost instantly if the sheep get hurt and to disinfect the wounds before any infection can set in. Reasearch your facts properly instead of from some stupid website that is in fact uninformed.

  • Ana says:

    all of you claiming the idyllic life of farmed sheep Yes farmers do perform cruel practices on sheep. After all to farmers sheep are a commodity that spells money $$$$ to them. Whether the sheep live longer by a couple of years because of the sale of their wool the ultimate destination for sheep is the slaughterhouse. Slaughterhouses in Australia may be a touch above the even more hideous hell holes in the Middle East but there is nothing sweet or pretty about them. Humane slaughter is an oxymoron. Since I am a vegan I find their slaughter unjustifiedunjustifiable. Killing sheep for profit is unethical taking a life is unethical. Sheep are sentient beings and have their own intrinsic value not dependant on us. We kill all creatures because we CAN not because we have the right to do so.

  • Ana says:

    rojo Apology accepted. And Persian lamb coats and collars are not only “ridiculous” but extremely CRUEL and unnecessary. Peace

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Rojo whether I personally support wool or not won’t make much difference in Australia. Perhaps obtaining wool from sheep that are less prone to flystrike tighter skin would be a good place to start. A little more humanity would then have to take precedence over a little more profit. Also banning live export would make me happy. The transport and slaughter of farmed animals creates a lot of suffering as it is. The live export of Aussie sheep gives Australia a convenient way of abdicating their own animal cruelty laws. If a sheep is “lucky” enough to be born in Oz they deserve whatever protection Aussie law provides throughout their whole life .

  • keith says:

    Not sure about Rojo Ferretboy real weird pair of smart arses but when and for how long have either of you worked on a sheep station in Aus. to gain these facts please ?

  • Michele says:

    Wolfie you say that “All wounds inflicted while shearing are treated with disinfectant spray and cleaned”. The point is there should not be ANY inflicted wounds! Ferretboy I guess you think that having “strips” of skin taken off these live animals is okay as compared to someone taking off “chunks”. Maybe you should try it on yourself to see which one is more painful. One way might be more painful than the other but the operative word is “painful” it still hurts and humans have no right to inflict pain on nonhumans. Rojo your children come home with cuts and bruises from playing yes that is a normal part of life for kids even when they are involved in relatively safe activities. However I am sure you would feel differently if you knew your children were having cuts and bruises inflicted on them DELIBERATELY by someone else. If you do not care about that then my previous statements about you are even more validated. I do not care what you think of my “assessment” of you I happen to be a trained social worker with experience in dealing with mentally ill individuals.

  • Ferretboy says:

    muesling is strips of skin not chunks. your making it out as if Australian farmers are just running up to sheep and hacking off massive chunks of their bodies with an axe or something. and using the word ‘carve’ sounds like the animal is already dead and were butchering it up for meat. Rojo does make a valid point a very valid point. Sure farmers could invest in some painkillers for the animals but muesling is a practise to keep the animal alive and healthy and not get flystrike ect isnt that what most people here want anyway?. Have any of you actually been to an Australian sheep farm? How do you know that sheep are kicked and beaten? When sheep are sheared they are turned onto their backs while leaning against the farmer. The sheep does not struggle in this position and are not uncooperative. The sheep are kept in very high ethical conditions and they go through many quarantine processes before they leave Australia. May I point out that any cruelty shown to these sheep is done so AFTER they leave Australia. And many sheep are scared of people who wouldnt be? Unless you actually hand raise a lamb form the time of birth it will be afraid of humans. And the story about that sheep Marcie was from America not Australia. So how can that be compared? Australia has extremly high standards of care for the animals. These sheep do recieve veterinary care. These sheep are cared for properly while they are in Australia.

  • Wolfie says:

    I’m not sure if any of you having taken this into account but these “other alternatives” that you are preaching about cost a lot of money. I don’t agree with mulesing either but Australian Sheep farmers are suffering from drought and poverty already without the added cost of these “alternatives”. I mean seriously people the rate of suicide in farmers has gone up because conditions are so bad and many farmers are torn up inside that they can’t provide enough for their sheep let alone their families. I am vegetarian and I refuse to wear leather but I do believe that NOT supporting the Australian wool industry is wrong. Without the wool production the sheep would have to be sold off for meat as the farmers need to eat as well. I also agree with Ferretboy here when he says you need to go to a sheep farm before you judge. I have been to wool farms and the way that the sheep are treated is COMPLETELY different to what PETA is claiming.

  • rojo says:

    mike depends on whether or not you believe either is in fact evil and if you do I’d suggest taking the lesser of two evils. When you stated 15 years I took it you meant average lifespan. George the sheepfamous in Australia lived to 21. Few live beyond 12natural causes. Sure I’ll inform the sheep and if they say no I won’t do it. So what are the more humane methods? Breeding is happening now but it will take a while and there is talk of chemical injections that drop the wool from around the breech. Will you then be supporting wool?

  • rojo says:

    michele thanks for your psychiatric assessment coming from you makes all the difference. “why don’t we let the sheep go about their own lives” Primarily because they’ll get flyblown infested with worms be irritated with lice and find it terribly difficult to get around with 3 years wool on their backs. Secondly wool production provides the closest to natural course for sheep life. They roam around freely breed naturally and their predators are controlled. They get mustered a few times a year to their benefit. My kids come home from school with cuts and bruises from over exuberant play. Are you telling me sheep are less able to cope with a few cuts? I don’t make judgements on others level of intelligence but to suggest sheep will live happily ever after if left to their own devices is not a great display of such.

  • rojo says:

    Ana quite right a feather in your cap about the persian coats. What an idiotic practise. So pointless I couldn’t imagine it. Of course I did apologise for my error on that thread but deserve every bit of additional scorn.

  • Wolfie says:

    I think PETA needs to take a look at ACTUAL sheep farmers in Australia. I’ve grown up around sheep farmers my entire life and I have never NEVER seen this abuse that PETA is claiming goes on. All wounds inflicted while shearing are treated with disinfectant spray and cleaned. The mistreament of sheep happens only in the extreme cases. Also the treatment of animals on ships travelling away from Australia is not in the control of the sheep farmers. The sheep are tested to the best possible extent so that they are healthy enough to survive the trip. What happens on the ship is in the control of the country who owns the ship which has nothing to do with Australian farmers. There is more but I believe I’ve taken up enough room.

  • kelly says:

    Lisa I am horrified by what your sister did to you. Horrified! She should have respect for you and your interests but she should also have the sense to understand that animal abuse is a part of the whole picture. Shame shame on her. A truly educated intelligent person would never do what she did. I suggest that you watch the movie YEAR OF THE DOG. Watch it right through to the end. And never ever let a bully dissuade you or get you down. You are in the right. Stand proud!

  • carolyn says:

    what a tragic story poor marcie

  • Ana says:

    rojo You obviously did not know about the practices with newly born calves used in the USA which you disputed with me and you also do not not know about persian fur coats which you said was nonsense. Lambs still in the uterus are cut out of their Moms’wombs in order to skin them for their curly soft fur. So you do ridicule because you are ignorant and uneducated about practices you know nothing of. So get the facts before you use such ridiculous comments to support your antianimal stance.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Rojo I believe Michele eloquently stated my rebuttal above. You can’t trade off one evil with a lesser evil. I stated that sheep for consumption live only 23 years of a possible 15 years. Which sheep 813 years are you talking about? “No mike certainly not my rear but informed of the consequences it’s a real choice.” Okay inform the sheep of the consequences and they’ll make a real choice. I don’t think they’re extended that courtesy so for them it’s not a real choice. “I’m in favour of of PETA and other groups providing anaesthetics for said sheep.” That’s very noble of you but why don’t the farmers themselves exhibit some decency and employ more humane methods to prevent flystrike? Or eliminate the problem by breeding and raising less wrinklyskinned sheep.

  • rojo says:

    Jaclyn you “love” it? I’m not critical of all the posts many are informative and logical. Although my perceptions may be different I respect everyone’s opinion and don’t think I attack them personally. What I do call into question is dubious and emotional claims purporting to be truth. Your own statements reme are based on your opinion not fact. Disprove what I write if you wish but don’t label me “anticompassion” just because I’m a realist.

  • rojo says:

    No mike certainly not my rear but informed of the consequences it’s a real choice. You may note that I’m in favour of of PETA and other groups providing anaesthetics for said sheep. Nearly all males are neutered called wethers regardless of destination. Again you make the point that those sheep for export or any meat consumption don’t live to 15. Not many sheep doav 813 years And isn’t that reason enough to promote wool so that less sheep are available for slaughter.

  • Michele says:

    Rojo do you actually think you are being clever in trying to portray this as an “eitheror” situation? You must think we are pretty stupid if you believe that we will see the two options you presented as being the only ones available for consideration. If we were to believe your “facts” that mulesed sheep “only” have to get cut a few times per year that is STILL NOT ACCEPTABLE. Obviously your second option of “lambchops” is not acceptable to vegetarians or vegans. BUT did you think we would all suddenly say “wow rojo is right we should let the sheep continue to get mulesed so that they don’t end up as food for humans!”? DUH! How about we let the sheep go about their own lives without having to go through a terrifying process just for vanity’s sake? How about we let them live as they were intended without fear of being killed by humans with weapons and tools? The sheep population would then gradually return to a level that is regulated by nature and not by man’s greed. That you silly man is OPTION 3 and is the only acceptable option. By the way rojo did you watch Earthlings yet? I doubt it you show all the indicators of a sociopath and a coward.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Rojo I’m glad you can be pragmatic about opting “for short term pain for long term gain.” But of course it isn’t your rear end that’s being hacked into without painkillers. The vast majority of sheep sold into the live export trade are young usually 23 years old castrated males. That’s some life for an animal that can live 15 years.

  • Jaclyn says:

    I love how ROJO is so anticompassion and anti anything that involves helping animals. ROJO is always critical of all the posts. It is a shame that ROJO is not so proanimal. With all the available time always reading the blogs and posting he would do good at helping animals. Such a shame that some people waste their time.

  • rojo says:

    alan I think you are on the wrong track with regard to wool. If your information comes from groups like PETA then wool is horrific. If on the other hand you do some real research wool is the best outcome for sheep. Any procedure done to the sheep is actually for it’s benefit not for the farmers “amusement”. They get mulesed once and get a few cuts once a year at shearing and do so for 78 years. The alternative is lamb chops. As a vegan which part of the sheep industry would you rather encourage?

  • Judith, Freedom Fighter says:

    I read an article in an British magazine. They are putting a program on air where the are going to show children and let them watch as they slit the throats of little lambs baby goats pigglets and veal calves and who knows what else.This made me ill as it did many of the people over there there. http://www.thisislondon.co.uknews article23411325details Please put in your two words about this horror. This has Gordon Ramsay all over this. People that do this are monsters………….

  • stasya berber says:

    sheep are prey animals thy are naturally afraid of humans predators and will also naturally congregate in a group for protection. and huge chunks of skin? its strips i know this is a case of symantics but mainly this is what this article is doing overblowing facts with emotional wording. I myself think mulesing is painful and i would not like to be the one enduring the procedure but its one of the few options for wrinkle skinned wool sheep. and yes there are alternatives scientists are testing a protein which will make the skin contract and not grow hair some farmers may also chose to breed breechstrike resistant sheep or use clips or needleless intradermal injections which cause the surrounding skin to fall off i think this situation is a catch 22 its the lack of anesthetic that is what makes this procedure most cruel in my eyes but perhaps it is not monetarily feasible. Im a vegan and i DO try my best to know about the issues concerning animal welfare but i do not know the whole story however i think it is the obligation of PETA to get the whole story themselves before they start a campaigne which villifies people who want to make a living and dually care for their animals even if this is by choosing perhaps a lesser evil through mulesing

  • BullyDawg says:

    Just one idea…if you live in southern climes I don’t know if you do or not seersucker is very fashionable and comfortable for warmer weather! Of course we are going into fall so maybe I’m not much help. I’m with you…I don’t buy leather anymore but I still wear my leather shoes until they wear out. I just can’t afford to buy fashionable alternatives right now. But I always make it clear to friends that they’re OLD shoes! I don’t know how others here feel but I think as long as you don’t buy any NEW wool suits it’s alright. And hopefully some better alternatives will come out soon!

  • Alan says:

    Yes the conditions under which sheep are raised are horrific. But as a 5year vegan who works in an office I’m conflicted about this one. The vast and overwhelming majority of men’s suits are made of wool. I’ve been wearing older wool suits I’ve owned since before becoming vegan and occasionally buying other used ones on ebay. But aside from buying cheaplooking polyester suits made from petroleum or paying a fortune for customtailored Tencel or soy silk I’m not sure what else to do. Any ideas? Please spare me the talk about how I’m “not really vegan” if I’m wearing old wool I’m really just interested in advice here not attacks.

  • AnimalLib says:

    Alternatives such as…? Yes I know the alternatives but it wouldn’t have hurt to mention them instead of “Rather than spend the extra time and money on effective and humane methods to prevent flystrike many farmers….” It would have been nice if you would have mentioned what the alternatives involve and so on. But you did atleast you did explain the reasoning behind mulesing not just that they do it.

  • Ferretboy says:

    you know iv been to sheep shearing staions in Western Australia and they arnt like that. They actually do care about the animals so im not really sure where you got that from. Not being rude or anything but have you actually been there to see yourself? I think if your going to make an acusation like that you should at least say youve seen it with your own eyes first. You can make the same point but just not in the way youve said it like youve experienced it yourself.

  • Laiza says:

    OMg no more wool for me!

  • rojo says:

    Well I have to laugh at PETA over this one. Don’t they realize one of the key aspects of the wool industry is that sheep get to live. The only alternative use for sheep is meat. Those ones don’t get to live so long. “She was terrified of people”. Sure sheep are not pets why would they be comfortable with people. My dog doesn’t like strangers either. The Australian wool industry for which you hold so much scorn does not remove lambs staight after birth or for that matter until months after. The best growth promotant is mothers milk. If a sheep is bred to produce more wool then obviously less sheep are required. The Australian sheep flock is now at historically low numbers which will no doubt should make you happy. “breeding machine” what would she be doing in the wild? knitting. While mulesing is painful it is hardly “misguided”. It’s not a free procedure so if it wasn’t effective it wouldn’t be done. I don’t mind if PETA raises some money for anaesthetic but it will probably involve some animal testing. Having seen fly blown sheep I’d opt for short term pain for long term gain. Doesn’t mean I’d like the pain but if I knew the consequences it would be the choice to make. Shearing is certainly not playtime who wouldn’t be nervous about being penned in a noisy environment and have their wool taken forcibly. The result though is the sheep return to the paddock for another year and they don’t seem to suffer any post trauma distress.

  • david patrick harkin says:

    thanks for telling me this peta i will never buy wool again good job peta.

  • Maureen says:

    I have seen these poor animals in the UK packed in trucks being shipped from Dover to have their throats slit in a far off land after days at sea. I will never ever forget that scene.

  • Mike Quinoa says:

    Touching and educational post Jack. Australia conveniently circumvents its own animal cruelty laws when it live exports Australianborn sheep to the Middle East to be barbarically slaughtered. Greed seems to be one of the few things that’s above the law.

  • Lisa says:

    I am definately looking at the PETA Mall. The things that go on make my stomach physically nauseated. I MUST do my part to help. PETA I NEED A JOB! I think this is TERRIBLE! The cruel things humans do are horrible. Not to mention when the pain could be avoided. Some hunter’s say “Oh they can’t feel it.” I reply “When people get shot most of them feel it. So why wouldn’t an animal!” My older sister is very well educated and she is the head auditor for twelve Junior Colleges. She and I clash. It’s because she is so passionate about Politics as am I. But our views differ on many subjects. One of our last phone calls she told me that I should stop lobbying for the antislaughter bill for horses and stop worrying so much about animals and their National Preserves and worry about the state that our country is in. I understand what she is saying. But I believe that God has sent each of us on Earth with an inner passion. My passion has been to save help animals from the day I was born. As a very skinny six year old I would sneak down to our creek set the neighbors animal traps off with a stick pull them out of the water take the apple he had on a nail in the middle of the trap and hide the traps. I got yelled at by my dad almost nightly. My mom would fight for me as she always has. She believes trapping is wrong. Plus we had horses. Our pony’s hoof could’ve gotten in the metal traps. After many traps were “lost” and many tree stands “gone” the hunter’s don’t go around my parent’s property much.

  • Zanoni says:

    I don’t find words for this horrible animal abuse! How is it that the human being dares to do this to these innocient creatures! From where take they the right? But i’m sure that shortly after here there shall appear some rascal antibloggers stating that i want to force my ideas on somebody or something!!! Who are you to justify this! Criminal individuals doing this to an other species are pushing this planet deeper and deeper down into a hellish system in which conscious living beings including humans cannot close their eyes at night! i accuse these diabolic existences not just for animal abuse and bad treatment but also of public disturbance! What shall i tell my children if they see or read something like this that the human being is a devil that this planet is hell and that the animals are the lost souls or what! I have lost every confidence in the human being! And shame on these near east slaughterhouses! They should know that the Koran forbids slaughtering animals in that way! This is not hallal! All you down there are eating sin! THIS IS NOT HALLAL! THIS IS NOT HALLAL! THIS IS NOT HALLAL! B’ism Allah al Rahman al Rahim!!! Shame on you!

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