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Wool Industry Hits Back at PETA Campaign

13 April 2015

AUSTRALIA – Australia’s wool industry has slammed animal rights activists for a "misrepresentative" campaign against sheep shearing.

Australian wool producers came under fire from PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) last week when rock musician, Jona Weinhofen spoke out against the “very cruel” wool industry.

A band member of I Killed the Prom Queen, Mr Weinhofen was pictured with a fake mutilated lamb with the tag line “Here’s the rest of your wool coat”, which has been dismissed as “deceitful and misrepresentative” by industry body, Wool Producers Australia (WPA).

Shared on Twitter last week, the controversial image was used to draw attention to protestations against shearing and sheep farming in general. 

Undercover videos of 70 workers hitting and kicking sheep in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia were released by PETA last week.

PETA’s press materials accused farms of depriving sheep of food and water ahead of shearing in part so they “feel weak and put up minimal resistance”.

PETA also criticised castration via rubber ring; separation of ewes and lambs and live exports to the Middle East in their attack on sheep farming practices.

Paying shearers on volume, as opposed to hourly rates, encourages “fast, violent work”, said PETA.

In reaction, WPA backed Australian farmers saying they continually invest in sheep welfare, with over A$50 million spent on research, development, biosecurity and health and welfare programmes in the last five years.

“Wool growers tend to their sheep every day, using appropriate and often world leading husbandry and management practices,” said WPA. “However, animal extremists wilfully ignore and misrepresent wool growers’ strong desire to protect their sheep from harm.

“This recent campaign by PETA has seen them resorting to using a fake lamb supposedly showing the after-effects of shearing, which is clearly deceitful and misrepresentative of the usual practice of shearing.”

The image of Mr Weinhofen, a vegan for 15 years, holding a bloody lamb went viral last week. In a PETA interview, the musician championed non-wool products, playing down fashion or functionality issues with other options such as cotton linen and fleeces.

Reacting to the campaign, Ian Feldtmann, livestock group president at Victorian Farmers Federation said: “Its a false image, backed by false and insulting claims”.

He added: “All Australians should realise that PETA is all about portraying extreme behaviour as the norm.

“It’s in our own interest to treat our animals humanely, given good treatment means healthy animals and good productivity.

“As I’ve said before, like most producers, I’d kick anyone off my property who mistreated my sheep.”

Michael Priestley

Michael Priestley
News Team - Editor

Mainly production and market stories on ruminants sector. Works closely with sustainability consultants at FAI Farms.

Top image via Shutterstock