Humane Society International welcomes Country Road Group and David Jones commitment towards more responsible wool

By : Humane Society International August 29, 2019

Today Humane Society International (HSI) Australia warmly welcomes the series of commitments announced by iconic Australian retailer Country Road Group and David Jones to support more responsibly sourced wool.  This positive step forward comes at a time when the Australian wool industry is under increasing pressure as consumers demand more ethical production methods.

"Country Road Group and David Jones know their customers care about animal welfare and we have been delighted to work with them in the lead up to this important commitment.  We applaud their leadership within the Australian fashion market and believe it will encourage others to follow in their footsteps,” said HSI's Program Manager for Animal Welfare, Georgie Dolphin. 

The primary commitment by Country Road Group and David Jones will see all of their pure (100%) wool products verified as non-mulesed or ceased mulesed by Winter 2021.  This will also apply to the well-known high-street brands including Country Road, Mimco, Politix, Trenery, and Witchery.

Twenty million Merino lambs undergo mulesing across Australia every year.  Having been bred with wrinkled skin to maximise the amount of wool they yield, Merino lambs are then at high risk of 'flystrike', a painful condition which results in blowfly maggots feeding off their skin.  To prevent flystrike, standard practice in Australia allows wool growers to mules their sheep, using shears to slice off strips of the wrinkled skin around the rear, or breech area to create smooth scar tissue.  Approximately 75% of Australian lambs bred for wool are mulesed, many without any pain relief, and even when applied it is done post cut and does not last as long as the pain.

Fortunately there is a simple solution which eliminates both flystrike and mulesing - the use of genetic selection to breed plain bodied bare breech sheep with no wrinkles.  Farmers can transition flocks within 5 years.

"It is wonderful to have iconic Australian retailers like Country Road Group and David Jones supporting non–mulesed wool production.   Global brands and retailers including H&M, Marks & Spencer, Next, Target, Tesco, Abercrombie & Fitch, Adidas, Hugo Boss, Kerring, Nike and Timberland have also committed to move away and stop sourcing wool from mulesed sheep”, said Ms Dolphin.  "The genetic breeding of smooth bodied sheep is a humane alternative offering a win-win solution for both sheep and wool producers.”

HSI has been working collaboratively with FOUR PAWS Australia and RSPCA Australia on the mulesing issue. We are discussing it with other Australian brands and retailers letting them know that there is a successful and viable alternative. HSI and FOUR PAWS Australia plan to publish a list of all those companies sourcing non-mulesed wool later this year to help consumers make informed choices. 

Ms Dolphin concludes, "Animal welfare is increasingly front of mind for Australian consumers. It is great to see Country Road Group and David Jones leading the way to grow the demand for responsible wool and help bring an end to outdated and painful practices like mulesing.”

Header Image: Catherine Stockinger

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About HSI Australia

HSI concentrates on the preservation of endangered animals and ecosystems and works to ensure quality of life for all animals, both domestic and wild. HSI is the largest animal protection not-for-profit organisation in the world and has been established in Australia since 1994