US and Australian wool industries exposed in shocking undercover footage captured by animal rights groups

Peta said its videos showed abuses – including twisting the necks of sheep until they snapped – were widespread throughout the industry

The animal rights group Peta has released shocking footage captured during a five-month undercover investigation which it says shows the violent abuse of sheep in shearing sheds across the US and Australia.

Warning: This story includes graphic images and video

Videos published last night reveal what campaigners said was evidence of widespread, criminal mistreatment of animals, punched, kicked and sometimes killed by workers.

Peta said its investigators had witnessed abuses in nearly every shed they visited while filming from October 2013 to February this year, in an industry “infested with violence”.

It said the footage featured just a small selection of the cruelty observed at 14 sheds in Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska in the US and 19 sheds in Australia – the latter country being responsible for an estimated 20 per cent of the world’s wool exports.

Mimi Bekhechi, an associate director at Peta UK, said the videos were being sent to UK retailers in an appeal to them to stop selling wool products.

“Sheep are gentle prey animals who are petrified of even being held down, yet these sheep were punched in the face, kicked and stamped on and had their heads slammed into the floor by unsupervised, impatient shearers, causing them great distress, injury and even death,” Bekhechi said.

“Peta is calling on shoppers around the world to reject cruelty to animals – and that means never buying wool.”

In one incident from the US investigation, Peta said a shearer muttered “f***” over and over as he killed a sheep by twisting, severely bending and ultimately breaking her neck.

As he kicked the dying animal head-first down a chute, he apparently said: “I might have killed it.” Peta said the shearer also admitted that he had previously injured another sheep by bending the animal's neck back, explaining: “I get angry.”

In Australia, Peta claimed that workers for seven contractors were seen kicking, stomping or standing on animals’ heads, necks and hind limbs. Eight contractors had workers who punched or struck sheep using their clippers.

Peta said workers regularly caused gaping wounds to the sheep with their shears, and then did not administer painkillers before using needles and thread to sew up the flesh.

Warning: Contains very graphic scenes

The group also claimed that one worker was witnessed beating a lamb over the head using a hammer.

Investigating Peta’s claims, NBC News was told by a trade group representing more than 27,000 Australian wool growers that it “categorically and unequivocally condemns the mistreatment of animals”.

Michelle Lee, a spokesperson for Australian Wool Innovation, said: “Australian wool growers genuinely care for health and welfare of their animals so such alleged behaviour is very concerning.”

A representative from the American Wool Council, the main US wool industry trade group, told NBC News the behaviour described by Peta was “unacceptable”.

“We do not condone or support the actions of anyone that results in the abuse of sheep either intentionally or unintentionally,” said Rita Samuelson.

Warning: Contains very graphic scenes

“Rough handling of animals that might result in the injury of a sheep is an unacceptable manoeuvre during the shearing process or anytime when sheep are handled. … Kicking, throwing and poking the eyes of sheep are also unacceptable practices.”

Peta US said it had asked state and local law-enforcement agencies to investigate and bring criminal charges against workers as appropriate.

Lt Gary Jackson from the Montrose County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado confirmed to NBC that he had viewed the footage and prepared a report for the county’s district attorney to review.

But he said: “I saw nothing in the video that is outside the norm for that industry.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map