Mulesing will cost the Australian woolgrowing industry its future if it continues, AJP MP Mark Pearson has reiterated following the release of a new industry report.
“Moving away from mulesing makes ethical and economic sense, and this report has proven that from the perspective of the farmers who have already done it,” said Mr Pearson.
Towards a Non-Mulesed Future, by socioeconomic consulting firm BG Economics, collated data from a survey of 97 Australian woolgrowers in different states, climate zones and rainfall areas.
The report found close to 92% of the surveyed woolgrowers believe animal welfare is improved through not mulesing, with 98% also saying ceasing mulesing is important to their farm’s future profitability.
Close to 88% of farmers stated they received a price premium for their unmulesed wool, with 84% experiencing an increased return on investment.
Mulesing is an invasive procedure which removes a strip of wool-bearing skin around a sheep’s buttocks to prevent flystrike.
The practice, often done without pain relief, has become increasingly controversial on an ethical basis.
“In recent years we’ve seen increased public awareness of the horrors of mulesing, and consumers are now demanding non-mulesed wool as a result,” Mr Pearson said.
“People won’t buy products associated with a bleeding, gaping wound – and rightly so.”
Mr Pearson said if the woolgrowing industry can’t move away from mulesing, the viability of the industry in Australia needs to be questioned.
“The suffering we cause sheep in Australia, simply because we force them to exist in conditions intolerable to them, purely for human financial gain, is unconscionable,” he said.
An Upper House committee is currently conducting an inquiry into Mr Pearson’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animals Procedures) Bill.
The bill would mandate pain relief for mulesing and all other invasive procedures on farmed animals, and would eventually ban mulesing entirely in NSW.
“Securing this inquiry is a victory for the six million lambs in NSW alone who are mulesed without pain relief every year,” Mr Pearson said at the time.