10 Million Lambs Die Every Year In Australia For Global Wool Production

Spring has always been synonymous with birth, renewal, and growth; however, a recent report reveals that Australian lambs are dying at an astronomical rate.

The global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS reveals the shocking and largely unknown reality of millions of lambs used for wool production globally through new footage and a briefing paper.

The report reveals that 80% of the fine Merino wool market used in fashion originates from Australia. Merino wool is a sought-after resource and used worldwide in nearly every fashion industry from high-end fabrics (for its warmth, strength, and softness) to sports apparel (for its beneficial characteristics, such as breathability and odorless qualities).

But hidden behind the glamour, millions of sheep suffer unnecessarily – millions die right after birth and most of the surviving lambs are subjected to incredibly cruel practices such as “live lamb cutting.”

Australia’s lamb mortality rate surpass the U.S. average of 12% and the global average of 9%-20% by up to 10%, in some cases reaching up to 70%. This means an estimated 10 million lambs perish every year. The biggest risks for newborn lambs include birthing difficulties, inappropriate husbandry practices, or environment (e.g. lack of shelter), as well as poor breeding choices.

FOUR PAWS advocates for urgent action to protect these vulnerable animals and offers solutions to this suffering. Breeding less sheep has the potential to tackle multiple welfare issues including mortality rates, flystrike (parasitic infection) and live lamb cutting (also known as mulesing).

“Every year, millions of lambs silently starve and freeze to death in solitude. If the mother is close by, it has to witness the agony. This needless suffering occurs on an unimaginable scale. It’s simply heart-breaking and an issue that can and must be solved,” said Rebecca Picallo Gil, head of the end mulesing campaign at FOUR PAWS in a statement.

For Australian lambs, the biggest hurdle of survival is the first three days of life; a time where over 80% of lamb deaths are reported. If they survive, most lambs aged between two to twelve weeks old undergo live lamb cutting, where they go through excruciating pain that lasts for days and leaves a wound behind that requires weeks to heal.

To make matters even worse, there is an established link between live lamb cutting and lamb mortality, with the cruel mutilation increasing a lamb’s risk of death. Studies also show that lamb mothers are at high risk too. Due to birthing difficulties (Dystocia) alone, it is estimated that nearly 300,000 ewes die every year in Australia.

Gil continued, “Globally, live lamb cutting takes the lead as one of the most invasive routine-mutilations conducted on farmed animals, a mutilation that contributes to the overall high rates of lamb mortality across Australia. These latest images are hard to look at, and the certainty of live lamb cutting after this ordeal makes it even harder to bear.”

“But thankfully there is hope,” Gil adds, “with growers reporting that the use of good genetics, along with adequate animal husbandry practices, can help to tackle both high lamb mortality rates and reduce the need for live lamb cutting. For the welfare of lambs and their mothers, and for the sustainability of the industry, it is high time for a change.”

FOUR PAWS started to actively document international brands demanding wool free from live lamb cutting since 2020. From this began the Brand Letter of Intent calling for joint effort to end mulesing by 2030.

World Animal News and Peace 4 Animals urge everyone to make Compassion The Fashion by being conscious consumers and not purchase anything made from animals.

You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg

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