Many people don’t realize that buying wool supports the torture of sheep. If you ask people about going wool-free, they probably have a story about someone they know of who has sheep and treats them “very nicely.” Maybe their own family has sheep.

My aunt and uncle had a small farm in Oregon with about a dozen sheep. My favorite memory as a child is going to visit my aunt and uncle’s farm and feeding the sheep apples in the pasture. Would my aunt or uncle ever kick or punch a sheep? Of course not! But that doesn’t mean that the sheep used in the commercial wool industry aren’t abused every single day.

Wool Expectation vs Reality

Expectation Photo: © / bbbrrm 

Sheep feel hope, joy, pain, and fear, just as humans do—and they’re not ours to use for clothing or profit.

PETA’s video exposé of sheep-shearing crews in the leading wool-producing regions of Australia and the U.S. shows workers violently punch terrified sheep in the face, stomp and stand on the animals’ heads and necks, throw them, cut them with sharp metal clippers, and even beat them on the head with electric clippers and a hammer. Some sheep died from the abuse, including one whose neck was twisted until the animal died.

scared sheep screenshot

“Mulesing” is standard practice in the Australian wool industry. During mulesing, workers cut chunks of skin and flesh from the back of sheeps’ legs and around their tails, usually without painkillers. Mulesing is a procedure that’s done to prevent flystrike—which occurs when flies lay eggs in the folds of sheep’s skin and the hatched maggots eat away at the animals’ flesh.

Mulesing Collage

Patty Mark / 

Outdoor-clothing company Patagonia once bragged about using “responsibly sourced” wool on its website, but PETA’s new gut-wrenching video exposé reveals that life is hell for lambs and other sheep used for their wool and meat on “sustainable” farms. A witness saw workers on one of the Argentinian farms in the Ovis 21 network—Patagonia’s former wool supplier—hack into fully conscious lambs and start to skin some of them while they were still alive and kicking.

Lambs who were kept alive for their wool endured hideous mutilations, including having pieces cut out of their ears and their tails cut off—all without any pain relief. These practices are common in the wool industry.

patagonia Blood dripping onto lambs back legs from their tail wounds

Shearers stomped and stood on sheep’s legs. And fast, rough shearing left them cut up and bleeding.

patagonia injured sheep

Still think that sheep in the wool industry are treated “nicely”? Every wool coat, blanket, and scarf causes a tremendous amount of suffering. But it’s easy not to support this cruelty. That’s why I will never wear wool again!

Together, We Can Help Sheep

Our voices can make a difference. A great example is when Nylon magazine removed its hideous pro-fur campaign after receiving backlash from caring people who spoke up for animals. Stand up for sheep today by doing the following:

1. Never buy wool products. With so many wool-free alternatives offered by retailers such as Forever 21, H&M, and Target, this is super-easy to do. Just check the labels before you buy!

H&M wool-free collage


2. Write a letter to the editor of your school paper or local newspaper about the cruelty behind wool. Check out our Tips for Letter Writing to get started.

Taking action is fun!

3. Tweet at your favorite fashion magazine and ask it not to promote wool and instead feature warm, stylish, cruelty-free fabrics. Here are some examples:

4. Need a topic for your class assignment? Why not talk about the wool industry? You can inform your classmates and teacher about the cruelty behind wool while working on that A+.

5. Spread the word about the wool industry and ask your friends and family never to buy wool.

For more ways to help sheep and other animals used for clothing, check this out

who are you wearing banner sheep