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You've never seen anything like this before. These videos will make you think twice about buying that wool sweater or scarf.
Disturbing PETA US eyewitness investigations – the first of their kind – reveal that workers threw, beat, stamped on, kicked, mutilated and killed sheep as they sheared them in Australia, the world's top wool exporter, and in the US. Please, won't you help these animals?
Paralysed by Fear
As you can see in this groundbreaking video footage, sheep shearers 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.
One shearer repeatedly twisted and bent a sheep's neck, breaking it. After the shearer kicked the sheep head-first down a chute, PETA US' 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.
PETA US' video exposé highlights just some of the cruelty observed in all 19 shearing sheds in Australia 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.
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 stamped and stood on their heads and necks. Workers threw scared sheep around and slammed their heads and bodies against hard wooden floors.
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. As documented during the investigations, large swaths of skin were cut or ripped off the bodies of many sheep by the clippers and one sheep even had his penis cut.
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 cunt[s]" and "goddamn 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 animal's own urine off the hard wooden floor.
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 there overnight, apparently without care, and found dead the next morning.
Farmers put tight rings on some lambs' scrotums without anaesthetics in order to castrate them. When their testicles didn't fall off as expected, clippers just cut off the lambs' scrotums and testicles with their shears.
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 multi-tiered ships. Some die in transit, and those who survive the journey are slaughtered by having their throats cut while they're still conscious.