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Compassion slams decision to delay sheep mulesing ban

Compassion in World Farming is deeply disappointed by the decision of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) to abandon its commitment to phase out mulesing by 2010.

Mulesing, an operation to remove parts of a sheep's skin to reduce the risk of flystrike, is an extremely painful operation. No farming system should rely on the need for mutilations and the sooner this painful practice finishes the better.

Compassion in World Farming urges retailers and consumers only to buy wool that has come from unmulesed animals.

No animal should be subjected to surgery of any kind without pain relief and its use must be extended without delay to all animals that are still mulesed. Pain relief is also need for tail-docking.

At present, pain relief is only provided after the operation. The industry needs urgently to get an injectable pain relieving agent such as carprofen licensed so that the sheep can have some relief during the operation itself.

The only good solution to this problem is to breed animals which are resistant to flystrike and to look after sheep properly so that any outbreak is quickly dealt with.

Phil Brooke, Welfare Development Manager for Compassion in World Farming, said "Compassion in World Farming is dismayed by the decision to delay the ban on mulesing. This is a severely backward step. We urge retailers and consumers to insist that all wool comes from sheep which have been neither mulesed nor clipped.

"It is unacceptable that sheep should be treated like this. It should also be seen as unthinkable to conduct painful operations without anaesthetic. Sheep should be given pain relief for any surgery and they need it before as well as afterwards.

"The Australian wool industry must put its full weight into breeding and managing sheep so they don't need to be mutilated to keep the flies away."