PRESS RELEASE: Sheep - the latest victims of factory farming



Many Australians are aware that sheep in Australia are subjected to the cruelty of live export and mulesing - but few are aware that they have become the latest tragic victims of factory farming - all to produce ultra fine wool for the high end fashion industry.

Footage and photographs obtained by Animals Australia at a facility in Victoria reveal hundreds of sheep being kept indoors in tiny individual pens for five years or more to produce fine wool for some of the world's leading fashion houses.

The footage reveals sheep confined in individual barren steel and wire pens chewing on the pen railing and strands of wire, pacing repetitively and swaying. Almost 2000 sheep are confined in inhumane conditions at this single facility - and some 10,000 nation-wide - kept well away from the eyes of the public.

Animals Australia Executive Director Ms Glenys Oogjes,
"Australians will be shocked to learn that sheep have also become victims of factory farming in this country. What more can we do to the humble sheep? They are subjected to live export and mulesing and now industries confine them for up to five years indoors in tiny pens with no quality of life, no exercise and on a minimal diet to keep their wool at the finest level possible. This is an horrendous industry that I am sure Australians will be appalled by."

"The factory farming of sheep for ultra fine wool has been a well kept industry secret. If consumers were aware of the years of misery that goes into every expensive fashion garment from these ultra fine wool sheep, the reaction in the fashion hubs of Europe would be as it has been against mulesing. Australia's reputation as a civilised and humane nation will take yet another blow," concluded Ms Oogjes.

Further information about the shedded sheep industry:
* Ultra fine wool producers provide the sheep with the minimum amount of feed, to ensure their wool remains fine. They will often be hungry.
* Sheep are unable to graze, exercise or exhibit flocking behaviour and the resulting chronic stress is a consequence of this cruel practice.
* A recent Melbourne University study commissioned by the Wool Factory (near Horsham) showed the majority of the sheep in these pens (71%) exhibited stereotypic behaviours - pacing, head butting the pen, chewing and nosing the pen, pawing or rearing - for a significant period each day.
* This method of housing sheep is exempted from the cruelty provisions of the Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and by the cruelty laws in other States. A legal ban on the factory farming of sheep is therefore required.
* The world's largest single buyer of ultra fine wool, Italian company Loro Piana, last year refused to buy wool produced by single penned sheep, and Ermenegildo Zegna (maker of fine wool suits) has ruled that fleeces from single penned sheep are no longer eligible to enter its prestigious annual awards for the finest sheep fleece.


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