Wool Also Comes at a Price

We’ve been hearing lots about the despicable practices linked to the fur industry for quite some time now and it’s always encouraging to hear that positive changes are occurring, such as PETA’s recent breakthrough to finally convince designer Donna Karan to stop using fur in all of her designs. Although Giorgio Armani (equally targeted by PETA’s latest parody Web site, done with the help of Project Runway star Tim Gunn) has not yet voiced his intentions to help bring forth a change, Donna Karan has promised that her 2009 fall line-up, as well as all other future releases, will be fur-free. Thank you Donna!

But what about wool? We’re generally left with the impression that wool is a ‘friendly’ product since we are continually sold on the idea that sheep happily relinquish their fleece since shearing is a ‘natural’ act which ‘must be done’ and so benefits all, including the lambs and sheep.

Regrettably, mass production and profitability entails an entirely different reality; the wool industry is an equally brutal and despicable business and buying wool supports a harsh cruelty towards wool bearing animals.

PETA has been investigating the industry for some time now, focusing on farms in Australia since it is the world's top wool producer. Their efforts have helped to expose this industry's horrendous hidden cruelty to animals, such as a reliance on what can only be described as a sick and barbaric practise called “mulesing,” wherein helpless lambs are forced on their backs so that chunks of skin and flesh can be “hacked from their rumps with gardening type shears.” This is done to discourage flies from laying eggs in the natural wrinkles formed by the sheep’s skin and is almost always performed without the use of anaesthetics since this would increase production costs. What’s usually not mentioned in regards to this practise is that the animals are often left with open wounds that become infested with maggots.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s more! Once the sheep are judged to produce too little wool and so to provide a low return (everything is always a ‘numbers’ game with these ‘farmers’ – it is, after all, a business ), they are considered useless and so they are inevitably sold off for their meat.
Since these lambs and sheep were not raised specifically for the meat industry, they are considered as ‘low-grade meat’ and sold ‘en masse’ to slaughterhouses in the Middle East and North Africa (which is one of the reasons why lamb and mouton meat is cheap and abundant in
most Maghreb countries).

As a result, millions of sheep are shipped off each year, tightly packed onto open-deck boats for a journey many will die from. But that’s ok; again it’s a numbers game and a ‘loss’ is expected and calculated into each shipment… But the reality is that the weaker sheep who would otherwise live on for many years often become ill – left to stand in their own excrements is no help - and they, along with the injured sheep, typically collapse and are trampled to death. Others die from exposure to the harsh elements at sea.

Those that survive the journey, arriving listless and terrified, are instantly dragged off to be slain, exsanguinated while still conscious, in rudimentary slaughterhouses.

Ironically, proponents of the wool industry describe the Australian sheep industry "as one of the most efficient and cost effective in the world" (RFID for Livestock and Animal Identification). All about numbers!!!

Is wool really worth all of that? Still not convinced or would like more info? Here are some very necessary sites advocating changes in this industry:

Keep on clicking!


© 2009, Pascal-Denis Lussier

Images: "PETA counters False Claims" courtesy of Save the Sheep.com; "Effects of Mulesing" courtesy of www.free.org; "The Al Shuwaikh with bloody carcasses heaped at bow" and "Sheeps swimming in urine and feces" courtesy of Live Export Shame.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great! Now I have to rethink my wool socks too!

It seems that no matter what, if we're relying on a particular animal as a source of raw materials, exploitation and horrific behaviour will eventually be brought to light. At some point they stop being living things and become a commodity when there is a potential wealth to be had. It seems to me that with stricter regulations, we should be able to stop these industries before they reach that point!

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