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International Exposé: Sheep Killed, Punched, Stomped on, and Cut for Wool

You’ve never seen anything like this before. These videos will make you think twice about buying that wool sweater or scarf.

Update: In August 2016, officials in Victoria charged a minimum of six shearers with at least 70 counts of cruelty to animals, the first-ever charges anywhere in the world against wool-industry workers for abusing sheep. In December 2016, the first defendant pleaded guilty and was banned from shearing or being in charge of farmed animals for two years. In February and March 2017, four more shearers pleaded guilty to more than 60 counts of cruelty. All were banned from shearing or being in charge of sheep for up to two years and fined up to $3,500. The sixth shearer was convicted of cruelty to animals in May 2017. He was banned from shearing or being in charge of sheep for six months and fined $2,000.


As first reported by NBC, disturbing PETA eyewitness investigations—the first of their kind—reveal that workers killed, beat, stomped on, kicked, mutilated, and threw sheep around as they sheared them in Australia, the world’s top wool exporter, and the U.S. Please, won’t you help these animals?

As you can see in this groundbreaking video footage, sheep shearers in Australia violently punched these gentle animals in the face and beat and jabbed them in the head with sharp metal clippers and even a hammer. These attacks often left the petrified sheep bleeding from their eyes, noses, and mouths.

It’s not better for sheep in the United States. One shearer repeatedly twisted and bent a sheep’s neck, breaking it. After the shearer kicked the sheep head-first down a chute, PETA’s investigator found her dead. The shearer bent, twisted, and bounced his bodyweight on dozens of sheep’s necks and forelimbs and poked his fingers into sheep’s eyes. See for yourself:

Paralyzed by Fear

PETA’s video exposé highlights just some of the cruelty observed in all 19 shearing sheds visited by investigators, who documented 70 workers employed by nine shearing contractors who abused sheep in Victoria and New South Wales—Australia’s top wool-producing states—and South Australia. Annually, these contractors’ workers may shear a total of more than 4 million sheep.

In the U.S., PETA’s investigator documented workers’ abuse and neglect of sheep at 14 ranches across Wyoming—the country’s second-leading wool producer—as well as Colorado and Nebraska. In 2013, 3.7 million sheep were shorn in the U.S.

Sheep are deprived of food and water before being sheared, in part so that they’ll feel weak and put up minimal resistance. As one shearer explained, “Imagine if someone attacked you after … you’d been starved for 24 hours—you wouldn’t have much of a fight.”

But when these prey animals panicked—terrified of being pinned down—the shearers stomped and stood on their heads and necks. Workers threw scared sheep around and slammed their heads and bodies against hard wooden floors.

Read updates on the cases here

This sheep, who could not stand, was sheared and then dragged across the ground and outside a shed. She was left to lie like this, without water.
Shorn sheep are often thrown and kicked down chutes. This animal lay in danger of being trampled by the next sheep shoved out of the shearing area until PETA's investigator helped her stand.
Another ''ball bag''—the testicles and scrotum cut off by a shearer along with the wool—was found on the floor.
Farmers put rings around lambs' scrotums without anesthetics to castrate them. Wool handlers sometimes find testicles and scrotums that shearers have cut off on the floor.
PETA's investigator often found blood-soaked pieces of wool after shearers, who work quickly and roughly, severely cut sheep's bodies—even cutting at least one sheep's penis.
Chunks of sheep's skin—up to 4 inches long—were found so often that one farm had a box marked ''Skin,'' into which wool handlers tossed pieces of flesh.
Shearers cut off large swaths of sheep's skin, like these, along with their wool and often wound the animals. The investigators never saw any cut sheep receive veterinary care.
Workers didn't give sheep any painkillers before pushing needles through their flesh to try to close gaping, bloody wounds caused by shearing.
Sheep are kept in severely crowded pens.
Sheep are deprived of food and water, sometimes overnight, in part so that they'll put up less resistance when shearers are handling them.
This sheep died while her wool was being clipped off. A shearing crew boss said of sheep dying during shearing, ''It happens … every year.''
Workers hauled this ram into a trailer to be sheared and left him like this overnight. He was found dead in the morning, and a shearer cut the wool off his remains.
A shearer repeatedly twisted and bent this sheep's neck, breaking it. The shearer kicked the sheep head-first down a chute. PETA's investigator found her dead.
Unprofitable Australian sheep are often shipped to the Middle East to be slaughtered or are killed on farms. This animal's butchered remains were left in full view of other sheep.

A Commodity and Nothing More

Shearers are often paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast, violent work and can lead to severe cuts on sheep’s bodies—even on at least one sheep’s penis. Large swaths of skin were cut or ripped off the bodies of many sheep by the shearers.

When they’re first sheared—a highly stressful experience—lambs cry out loudly because, according to one worker, “they’ve been separated from their mums and they’re calling for them.… They’re going, ‘Mom! Mom!’”

When one lamb cried out during shearing, a worker yelled, “Pull it out! … [You’re] hurtin’ ‘er,” crudely joking that the shearer was raping the lamb. Workers called sheep “f***ing” and “God damn cunt[s]” and one rancher boasted that he had “the ‘all permission’ to pound the f*** out of” sheep. Another rancher said of one animal, “I want to choke that sheep. Cut her air supply off.”

One shearer even used a sheep’s body to wipe the sheep’s own urine off the hard wooden floor. 

Systematic Suffering

Workers didn’t give sheep any painkillers before pushing needles through their flesh to try to sew up gaping, bloody wounds caused by shearing. The investigators never saw any veterinarian provide injured sheep with veterinary care.

A shearer cut off part of one sheep’s ear with no pain relief whatsoever. At another ranch, workers hauled a dying, lame ram—gasping for breath—into a trailer to be sheared. The ram was left overnight in the trailer, apparently without care, and found dead the next morning.

Farmers put tight rings on some lambs’ scrotums without anesthetics to castrate them. When their testicles didn’t fall off as expected, shearers just cut off the lambs’ scrotums and testicles with their clippers.

Injured and unprofitable sheep were shot to death in full view of other sheep and even butchered. Each year, millions of sheep—including those no longer wanted for their wool—are shipped from Australia to the Middle East and North Africa on severely crowded multitiered ships. Some die in transit, and those who survive the journey are slaughtered by having their throats cut while they’re still conscious.

You Can Help Stop This!

The best thing that you can do for sheep is to refuse to buy wool! It’s easy to check the label when you’re shopping. If it says “wool,” leave it on the shelf.

Have a Heart: Don’t Buy Wool!

Pledge Not to Buy Wool
Have a Heart–Pledge Not to Buy Wool!
I, the undersigned, hereby pledge not to buy or wear wool. I know that sheep and other animals who are used for their wool suffer just as those animals who are used in the food industry do, and I no longer want to support the cruel wool business. I pledge to expose the truth about wool and to spread the word until we close down the wool industry forever.
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