Wool can be present in the composition of clothing, blankets and carpets, and is presented as an ethical consumer product whose preparation is safe for the animals that it is removed from. Images are broadcast of bucolic settings where sheep graze free and are shorn in the spring to give them relief from the heat and allow their wellbeing.
However, the reality is that the wool production industry requires massive amounts of sheep wool to meet market demand and, consequently, the animals have been genetically selected to generate excessive amounts of wool and increase production. Thus, the sheep are shorn in any season and are left at the mercy of the weather conditions.
During the shearing process, which is highly traumatic for the animals, scissors or other cutting instruments are used, which often produce painful lesions on the skin of the sheep, who have previously been tied down and immobilized.
Most of the wool consumed worldwide comes from Australia where it is common to use an extremely cruel technique called “mulesing”. As a result of genetic alterations induced in sheep, these animals have lots of folds in their skin to increase the production of wool. However, this refolding also causes serious infections and infestations by fly larvae. To avoid this, farmers perform a brutal and painful operation (“mulesing”) consisting of cutting, without anesthesia, pieces of flesh from animals, causing terrible, excruciating wounds.
In addition to the suffering and exploitation involved, wool production also directly involves the death of the animals. Male lambs are sent to the slaughterhouse for their meat, while females will be used as breeders until they cease to be profitable, at which time their lives will also be ended at the slaughterhouse.
Whether for their meat, skin or hair, the animals are equally exploited, objectified, imprisoned, subjected to cruel practices and finally killed.
Wool production in Australia: