not mulesing the answer

Ingrid E. Newkirk
president of Peta
Tuesday, 14 December 2004

The idea that I'm some city slicker who wouldn't know a sheep from a shopping cart is a fantasy (TV coverage for PETA," Tenterfield Star, December 2).

I spent my early childhood on my aunt and uncle's dairy farm. I have seen sheep eaten alive by maggots, and I've seen rabbits suffer the same fate. I've also taken a sheep to the vet after finding her flyblown. On a recent trip to Australia, I had to point out to one of the proponents of mulesing that the sheep he was showing me – a sheep who had died of untreated flystrike – was a mulesed sheep. While in Australia, I made a point to talk to farmers, veterinarians, and others who know all about flystrike damage and to learn from researchers who have developed sheep with smooth skin who do not attract blowflies as Merinos do.

Some farmers have reduced the incidence of flystrike by practicing good animal husbandry, such as monitoring flocks during blowfly season (flystrike symptoms -as you must know – include biting the infected area, stamping feet, walking in circles, and not grazing); setting fly traps, which studies have shown reduce flystrike to 0.0067 percent – far better than with mulesing; crutching to create a smooth breech; and jetting (worming) regularly to prevent a messy rump.

I have also recommended that farmers turn away from the "Frankensheep" who are greedily bred for extra folds of skin that allow waste to collect under the tail and attract blowflies. If they insist on 'working' thousands of sheep without using a breed that has a naturally smooth crutch, they need to do what's necessary to monitor them. It's just the cost of doing business, or darned well should be.

Mr McLachlan fights back the only way he knows how – by spinning a yarn. I have made it clear that PETA's boycott against Merino wool will end when farmers agree to stop mulesing and no longer export live sheep to countries that slaughter these animals – at least the ones that managed to survive the gruelling sea journey – using methods that are actually illegal in Australia. That is why the only people hurting the industry are those in it who refuse to move it forward.

read Ingrid's intial reply to critics

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