(Warning: graphic images)
Did you know that sheep naturally have tails that look like this?
He or she isn’t a special breed of sheep. This is just how sheep are born—all of them. We bet that most (if not all) of the ones you’ve seen have tails that look like this:
That’s because removing sheep’s tails (aka “tail-docking”) is common practice in the wool and meat industries. It’s done by burning or cutting off the tail or by putting a thick rubber ring or band around it so that blood can’t circulate, causing the tail to become necrotic and fall off.
And just so you know, these bands are also used to castrate lambs. All this is done without any pain relief.
Farmers claim that removing a sheep’s tail is necessary in order to prevent feces from building up in the wool and to prevent flystrike—but that’s BS.
The real reason that feces can become matted in a sheep’s tail is because the animals are selectively bred to produce unnaturally fine and excessive amounts of wool. In other words, if sheep weren’t abused and exploited for profit, the things that farmers are trying to prevent by cutting off their tails wouldn’t happen.
Many wool farms and shearing operations take it a step further and perform “mulesing” on these animals …
… which is the removal of skin from around lambs’ butts, which they also say prevents flystrike. Judging by the profoundly horrified looks on these animals’ faces—and the fact that a large part of their body was crudely cut off without any painkillers—it doesn’t feel good.
Yes, there are less painful alternatives—but I won’t even get into them because no part of exploiting lambs and sheep for their wool or flesh could ever be considered humane or ethical.
Tail-docking and mulesing are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the wool industry’s chronic and systemic torment and abuse of these sensitive, gentle, and intelligent animals. Pretty f*cked up, right? Well, that’s animal agriculture for you.