Regular readers know that mulesing is a process whereby sheep farmers in Australia turn lambs upside-down and cut off the skin and flesh on their rumps with a pair of gardening shears and without any pain relief. Now there are reports that Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), in response to PETA’s campaign to end mulesing, has developed another new mulesing alternative, but being hopeful of progress by AWI is something that makes me nervous to no end.
This alternative is an injection that smoothes out the animals’ skin (when it’s all full of folds, maggots can hatch and eat the sheep alive). The injection is not perfect—the animals are still stressed out from being handled—but it seems relatively painless, which is a huge step forward in embracing the concept that less pain doesn’t equal no pain).
We won’t break out the champagne yet. In 2004, AWI agreed to end mulesing by 2010, but they’ve been dragging their heels disgracefully. Then they developed a different (but still very painful) type of skin-removal technique called “clip mulesing,” in which big clips are clamped onto lambs’ bottoms so tightly that the flesh dies and falls off, and called it “humane.” Rotting, dying skin. Ewe.
So we raised a ruckus in the clothing retail industry, causing companies like H&M, Perry Ellis, and Adidas to reject all wool from mulesed lambs (including those mulesed using the hideous clips).
The injection, however, just might be a most-welcome forward movement for all those Aussie lambs.
Written by Matt Prescott