Kmart, Target say ‘No’ to wool from mulesed sheep

By : Humane Society International November 15, 2019

Humane Society International (HSI) Australia applauds Kmart and Target for committing to transition away from wool from mulesed sheep under their recently expanded ‘Better Together’ program.  This news comes within three months of similar announcements made by David Jones and Country Road Group who also support responsibly sourced wool.

“The fact that these four iconic retail brands have recognized that their consumers care about animal welfare and they are all changing their policies accordingly sets a huge precedent within the Australian fashion world.  We have been delighted to provide advice in the lead up to these important commitments which we believe will have a long-lasting impact on the welfare of millions of Australian Merino lambs,” said HSI's Program Manager for Animal Welfare, Georgie Dolphin.

Target has committed to ensure the humane treatment of animals in their supply chain as they believe all animals deserve a live free from cruelty and suffering, and by July 2023 all of the wool they use in their own brand clothing and bedding will be mules-free or from recycled wool materials.  Kmart has made a similar commitment for their own-brand (Anko) clothing and bedding by July 2024.

An estimated 13-20 million Merino lambs undergo mulesing across Australia every year.  Wrinkled skin Merino lambs are 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 literally slice off strips of the wrinkled skin around the rear creating smooth scar tissue.  Approximately 75% of Australian lambs bred for wool are mulesed.

Fortunately there is a simple solution which eliminates both flystrike and mulesing – the use of selective breeding to breed plain bodied sheep with no wrinkles.

"It is wonderful to have major Australian retailers supporting non–mulesed wool production.   Global brands and retailers including H&M, Marks & Spencer, Next, 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 selection of smooth bodied sheep to replace wrinkly flocks is a humane and viable alternative offering a win-win solution for both sheep and wool producers.”

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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