Group Calls for Rethink of ‘Toothless’ Guidelines to Include Detailed Blueprint for Phasing Out Cruel Lamb Mutilations

For Immediate Release:
7 May 2013

Sydney – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Australia has submitted its comments regarding the proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep, which the animal rights group says fall far short of offering comprehensive and meaningful welfare protections for sheep. In its submission, the group calls out the draft standards for classifying only some basic minimum care requirements as legally enforceable “standards” and consigning all other aspects of care and treatment to the status of unenforceable “guidelines,” which merely “provid[e] advice and/or recommendations.” PETA points out that nowhere in these toothless “guidelines” is a there the ghost of a plan to phase out “mulesing,” a cruel practice in which large chunks of skin are cut from lambs’ backsides in a crude and ineffective attempt to prevent maggot infestation.

“These draft standards and guidelines, with their impotent ‘recommendations’, send the message to farmers that they can get away with making only the most minimal effort to take care of sheep”, says PETA Australia’s Jason Baker. “PETA’s position is that the national standards must actively reinforce a commitment to ending mulesing – otherwise, complacent farmers will continue to needlessly mutilate their sheep because it’s ‘familiar’, ‘cheap’ or ‘easy’.”

As PETA explains in its submission, humane options for flystrike control are available and more effective than mulesing: A recent 20 month study of merino sheep in southern Victoria released by the Australian Veterinary Association found that the lowest incidences of flystrike occurred on sheep who had not been mulesed, but who were simply treated with insecticides. And the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation recently announced that because many wool producers are selectively breeding for plain-bodied or bare-breech sheep, there should be no surgical mulesing in about five years.

Copies of PETA’s submission are available on request. For more information, please visit