There are better ways to stop flystrike than mutilation

HSI Australia has been leading the charge to end live lamb cutting (also known as mulesing) in Australia for over a decade.

Lambs after live cutting (mulesing)

Australia is a major global producer of wool and we bear the sad distinction of being the only place in the world where live lamb cutting (mulesing) still occurs. Merino sheep originally had smooth skin, but a breed was introduced in 1883 with folds of skin in order to yield more wool.

This caused sheep to be susceptible to a serious condition called ‘flystrike’, where blowfly maggots infest the folded wrinkles of sheep. To counteract the problem of flystrike, live lamb cutting was developed by John Mules in the 1920s.

Most Merino lambs bred for wool are subjected to live lamb cutting at just 2-10 weeks of age. They are restrained in a metal cradle and have the flesh from their backside sliced off with sharp garden-style shears, often without pain relief.

Flystrike is a serious problem and nobody wants to see sheep end up with painful fly infestations. Fortunately, through better breeding practices, wool growers can select rams with no wrinkles to produce plain-bodied, flystrike resistant, sheep.

Footage showing lambs undergoing live lamb cutting is so horrific, it’s rarely caught on camera. Thanks to Collective Fashion Justice, new footage shows what live lamb cutting looks like in 2023. If you want to see for yourself, you can view it here, but please be warned VIEWER DISCRETION IS STRONGLY ADVISED:

Credit: Collective Fashion Justice

It’s hard to believe our Australian laws allow live lamb cutting to happen, it needs to be phased out. Please take action today by calling on all Agriculture Ministers to support an urgent update of the Australian Sheep Standards and a phase out of live lamb cutting set in legislation.


We’re calling on retailers and brands to source better wool

Download the Guide using the form below.

Compassionate consumers are demanding an end to painful farming practices like live lamb cutting (mulesing), which is encouraging more and more retailers and brands to phase out mulesed wool.

We inform retailers and brands about the issue of live lamb cutting and ask them to commit to phase out mulesed wool from their supply chains.

More than 200 are featured in our Better Wool Guide, helping consumers to more easily identify and support brands with a position against live lamb cutting, as well as supporting wool growers who are using the kinder solution of better genetics.

HSI has been working with many retailers and brands, assisting with their policies on live lamb cutting. We invite others to get in touch so we can advise on how to qualify for our Guide.


What you can do

Live lamb cutting (mulesing) is largely a forgotten animal welfare issue in Australia, and it’s one you can help bring awareness to. With more than 10 million lambs affected by this painful procedure every year, spreading the word can have a major impact:

Take action to call for changes in legislation which would phase out live lamb cutting (mulesing) by 2030 and mandate pain relief for painful husbandry procedures on lambs immediately.

If you choose to buy clothing or any goods made from wool, download the Better Wool Guide using the form below, and use it to make kinder purchases.

Share our campaign and our live lamb cutting explainer video.


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We’re also helping farmers choose more sheep-friendly practices

In 2020, we jointly commissioned an independent economic report for farmers, titled Towards a Non-Mulesed Future. It explored the economic viability of transitioning to a non-mulesed wool farming enterprise. The report showed it’s not only beneficial for lambs, but profitable for wool growers too.

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