Friday, October 8, 2010

Museling (Not for the squeemish)

I made the switch to eating vegan for health reasons, but I find myself being drawn into an internal debate with myself about some animal issues. It was probably inevitable. Most books on Vegan eating are written first with the animals in mind, health secondary.

Recently, I have been introduced to an issue in the wool industry called "Museling." When I first read about it, I was pretty shocked. I never gave wearing wool much thought. I read "Farmer Boy" (By Laura Ingalls Wilder) when I was little, and heck, sheering sheep didn't sound like something bad! It sounded kinda fun! Certainly, it didn't seem like anything that would harm the sheep. I never gave it a thought.

Here is Wikapedia's definition of the process:

Mulesing is a skilled surgical task[1] that involves the removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the breech (buttocks) of a sheep to prevent flystrike in regions where it is common.

Hmm, that doesn't sound good. Now, here is a picture:

This is mulesing!

Umm, that really doesn't look good. At all.

Here are the top 10 wool exporters in the world:

Global woolclip (total amount of wool shorn) 2004/2005[26]
  1.  Australia: 25% of global woolclip (475 million kg greasy, 2004/2005)
  2.  China: 18%
  3.  New Zealand: 11%
  4.  Argentina: 3%
  5.  Turkey: 2%
  6.  Iran: 2%
  7.  United Kingdom: 2%
  8.  India: 2%
  9.  Sudan: 2%
  10.  South Africa: 1%
  11.  United States: 0.77%
Australia is #1. Australia had planned on no longer using the Museling method of fliestrike control at the end of 2010. It has changed its mind.

If you'd like more information, google it yourself, or start with

Sometimes, "I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." (Toby Keith)

1 comment:

  1. While I totally agree that museling without pain killers is unethical, I do have to say that a lot of merino sheep farmers in Australia do not worry about passing a "museling law". The reason is that they have developed a genetic breed of merinos that is not as wrinkley as the merinos in the past. The wrinkles were where the fly larve would burrough and cause many more deaths than the act of museling. Most museling takes place only in the merino breed, so to be safe, save your money and don't buy anything made of the expensive merino wool. The act of sheering is completely safe for sheep, in fact they go into a trance like state when sheering takes place. While flystrike was prominate in the 1800s, as that is when many merino sheep farms grew wrinkley sheep, many farmers like the ones you would read about, would not practice a form of museling...they would rather cut their losses to the handful they would lose to flystrike. So read on and enjoy Ms Ingalls tales. ;)