More than 100 brands commit to phasing out mulesed wool

By : Humane Society International July 19, 2021

Gorman, Country Road, Myer, Target, and H&M are among 114 brands and retailers selling in Australia that have made a commitment to end the use of mulesed wool in their supply chains. These brands and retailers feature in a new downloadable guide—Humane Society International’s Better Wool Guide—and ranked according to their phase-out plans and policies, allowing Australian consumers to make a kinder choice for lambs in their wardrobes.

Mulesing, the farming practice of slicing off the wrinkly skin around the rear of a Merino lamb, is carried out to prevent flystrike; a painful condition caused when flies lay their eggs on an animal. While flystrike is a very serious problem for Australia’s sheep, the solution does not need to be painful too.  There are genetic solutions available that do not require the mutilation of Merino lambs. Farmers can breed plain-bodied sheep that are naturally resistant to flystrike and produce quality non-mulesed wool—a win-win for both the sheep and wool growers. Australia is the only country in the world that still carries out mulesing, and now many fashion brands are moving away from mulesed wool in the interests of a more ethical supply chain.

In order to support these brands and retailers, Humane Society International has developed and launched the Better Wool Guide. The Guide gives the brands a ranking based on the strength of their commitment to phasing mulesed wool out of their supply chains and their planned timeframes for doing so, helping consumers identify which brands are good, better, and best.

We are thrilled to see so many huge names in fashion making the switch to non-mulesed wool. Mulesing is a very serious animal welfare issue affecting millions of lambs each year, and it’s very encouraging to see all of these brands and retailers standing against it. Through the launch of our Better Wool Guide we are supporting this compassionate move  and providing consumers with the knowledge they need to make a better choice for Australia’s Merino lambs,” said Georgie Dolphin, Program Manager for Animal Welfare at Humane Society International

Speaking to Sheep Central in 2019 David Jones and County Road Group Head of Sustainability, Eloise Bishop, said, “The practice of mulesing does not align with our values as a responsible retailer and given the availability of viable alternatives, such as breeding strategies to eliminate the risk of flystrike, we believe we have a role to play in encouraging wool growers towards more responsible farming methods.

“We hope to see other Australian retailers follow our lead to create change in the global fashion industry.

Lisa Gorman, founder of the Australian fashion label Gorman, said, “We must look after our lambs by ensuring we're all choosing non-mulesed merino.”  

The July 2021 edition of the Better Wool Guide is available for download here, and a short (non-graphic) educational animation about mulesing is available to view here

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