Is sheep shearing cruel?

As long as there are sheep, for the health and hygiene of each individual animal, shearing must be practised.

Many sheep are unable to shed, unlike other livestock. A variety of issues arise if a sheep goes too long without being shorn.

The surplus wool hinders the ability of sheep to monitor their body temperatures. This can make sheep overheat and die.

The wool is trapped by urine, faeces and other ingredients, attracting flies, maggots and other pests. This induces frustration, illnesses and threatens the animal’s health.

Sheep with large quantities of wool can become immobilised in their direction by physical barriers and are more vulnerable to attacks from predators.

How the agricultural industry ensures the health of sheep?

Guidelines and educational programmes have been developed to educate farmers and ranchers and to protect sheep.

To read more about these rules, you can visit the official website of the American Sheep Industry Association.

“Sheep Shearing Schools” are open to the public and designed to teach right, healthy and humane sheep shearing practises to colleges, university extension services and wool producers.

Latest Media Claims

NBC released an article last week featuring video that shows shearers mistreating sheep, obtained from PETA.

The article quotes PETA official Daphna Nachiminovitch, who said, “The in-depth investigations of PETA show that, no matter how much anyone might want it to be, there is no such thing as ‘human’ wool.”

There is no doubt that the published footage was violent and inhumane, but to imply, let alone state, that this is the standard in the sheep industry says a lot about the “in-depth investigations” carried out to produce this footage.

The American Society of Animal Science and related affiliations do not condone the acts of violence and abuse depicted in these videos or accept them.

In the United States or Australia, it is not common practise in the sheep industry to handle sheep in an aggressive manner or treat the animals inhumanely. The violence found in the video footage is inhumane, does not reflect appropriate methods of husbandry, and within the industry is not accepted. In reality, unlike those filming the video, responsible sheep producers would never stand passively by filming inhumane treatment of sheep. Responsible, compassionate people will intervene instantly, rather than continue to film this conduct, to avoid cruelty.

That is not to suggest that during the shearing process, accidental cuts do not happen. In general, these cuts are similar to nicks that occur when people shave and do not cause significant injury. Suitable corrective action is recommended if the actions are deliberate and serious, as seen in the video.

Responsible sheep manufacturers take care of the animals entrusted to them. The husbandry practices seen in the video footage are neither the rule nor are they advantageous practices for the industry in the United States or Australia.

Shearing is a method of management which must be carried out on a regular basis. During the process of shearing, treating sheep in a violent way is not condoned.

It is not easy to farm and ranch cattle. Physically, it is demanding, the hours appear to be long and there are no days of holidays. Several factors that can not be handled, such as weather, disease issues, and predators, can affect livelihoods. In spite of these obstacles, farmers and ranchers raise livestock out of a labour of love and an inborn fondness for animals.

In order to improve human life and well-being, the American Society of Animal Science encourages the exploration, dissemination and implementation of scientific knowledge about the humane use of animals.

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