Sheep 'abuse' prompts RSPCA inquiry
Wool producers are "shocked and appalled" by graphic footage allegedly showing Australian shearers beating, kicking and stomping on sheep.
The vision released by animal rights group Peta yesterday shows shearers punching sheep in the face, beating them on the head with shearing clips, and violently throwing them on the ground.
Injured and bloodied sheep are roughly stitched up without anaesthetic.
Peta says the abuse occurred between August 2013 and March 2014 in 19 shearing sheds in Victoria, NSW and South Australia.
The RSPCA has launched an investigation into the "serious" allegations for potential breaches of state animal welfare laws.
"Shearing is stressful for sheep and it should be carried out by trained and competent workers," a spokeswoman said in a statement.
WoolProducers Australia has condemned the "unacceptable" behaviour of workers captured in the video, but said it was an isolated incident.
"We are shocked and appalled by the footage," WoolProducers Australia's president Geoff Fisken said in a statement to AAP.
"We ask all woolgrowers to take a zero tolerance approach to poor animal welfare practice and take the necessary steps to ensure rare behaviour like this ends."
Fisken said the industry had invested in research and training to improve animal welfare.
The Department of Agriculture said it had full confidence the matter would be investigated appropriately by the RSPCA and state authorities.
Peta said in a statement that Peta US was sending the video to international retailers that sell wool - including J.Crew and the Ralph Lauren - with an appeal that the companies end their sales of wool products.
Peta US listed its three reasons to avoid wool: as the cruelty of the live-export trade, the severe pain inflicted on animals during mulesing and now the abuse of sheep during shearing.
"Sheep are gentle ... animals who are petrified of even being held down, yet these sheep were punched in the face, kicked and stamped on and had their heads slammed into the floor by unsupervised, impatient shearers, causing them great distress and injury", Peta founder Ingrid Newkirk said.
"Peta is calling on shoppers around the world to reject cruelty to animals - and that means never buying wool."
-AAP and Sydney Morning Herald