The announcement by leading Australian fashion group Country Road Group and David Jones, committing to phase out mulesed sheep wool is a significant step in the right direction towards better animal protection in the fashion industry.
The move provides a clear signal to the Australian sheep industry that change needs to happen, a message echoed by European brands for some time.
“Well done to the team at Country Road Group and David Jones for making a solid plan to achieve higher levels of sheep welfare within their supply chains. Country Road’s commitment and plan to phase out mulesed wool is a progressive step forward for animals, and greater transparency for shoppers,” said FOUR PAWS Australia, Head of Programs, Jessica Medcalf.
“Although many brands are against mulesing, many more continue to use mulesed wool with no end in sight. It’s time for other brands to follow the example of Country Road Group and David Jones, and make a commitment to phase out mulesed wool,” said Ms Medcalf.
FOUR PAWS works collaboratively with Humane Society International and RSPCA Australia to help end both mulesing and flystrike in Australia, engaging with key stakeholders across the industry.
“Mulesing causes millions of lambs to suffer fear, stress and acute pain every year in Australia. This acute pain can last up to three days and leaves a wound which can take weeks to heal.”
Created back in the 1920s to deal with the horrors of flystrike, what was once considered a ‘necessary evil’ is now outdated and out-of-touch with modern standards, especially when alternatives exist and are already in use by many producers.
The recent interest by NSW and VIC agricultural bodies to make pain relief mandatory demonstrates concern for the practice by brands and shoppers, but pain relief, largely inadequate at that, isn’t the long-term solution.
“There is a long-term solution to flystrike and that’s good genetics. It’s unethical to continue breeding sheep who are prone to flystrike when you can breed them to be resistant. Put simply, lambs should not be mutilated to suit an unsuitable environment,” said Ms Medcalf.
FOUR PAWS has been consulting with major brands, in addition to wool producers to better understand the resistance to change, and to promote the solution. The animal protection organisation is also calling on people all over the world to sign a petition encouraging brands to take action. See the petition here.
“It has become apparent that with viable flystrike management alternatives available and in use already, mulesing has no place in a modern fashion industry, let alone a compassionate society.”
“Farmers across the country have told us that they can transition away from mulesing within three-five years. There is no excuse for mulesing to continue long-term,” said Ms Medcalf.
“Progress to transition away from mulesing by the Australian wool industry continues to increase, but at a shockingly slow rate – brands have the power to change that.”
FOUR PAWS is calling on brands and retailers to commit to a complete phase out of the use of wool from mulesed sheep. Shoppers can help Australian lambs by avoiding mulesed wool and signing the FOUR PAWS petition calling on brands phase out sales of mulesed wool.
To continue this positive movement, FOUR PAWS has launched the Wear It Kind campaign.
“Aimed at helping shoppers to ask Australian, US and global brands to show leadership and improve their animal welfare policies, we are already seeing this simple message of compassion and better business practices taking hold,” said Jessica Medcalf, FOUR PAWS Australia.
The campaign builds upon FOUR PAWS’ 30-year history working to improve animal welfare within the textiles industry, and FOUR PAWS Australia’s role as the Australian representative of the Fur Free Retailer program.
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Feature image via Country Road Resort Collection 2019.