RSPCA to look at shearer cruelty

10 Jul, 2014 03:45 PM
File photo.
Woolgrowers condemn this treatment; we’re not in the business of treating animals like that
File photo.

GRAPHIC footage of sheep being mistreated during shearing – which one woolgrower says appears “staged” - will be investigated by the RSPCA.

Video footage of shearers hitting sheep in the face with wool clippers and in the head with a hammer, kicking and roughly restraining the animals was made publicly available by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) overnight. The footage is alleged to have been shot over the past year in 19 different shearing sheds across Victoria, NSW and South Australia.

PETA Australia’s Claire Fryer said PETA US had submitted “extensive evidence” to authorities in the three States where the video is said to have been filmed, in the hope of having criminal charges filed on animal cruelty.

The RSPCA has confirmed it received complaints last night from PETA regarding alleged ill treatment of sheep in NSW and South Australia between August 2013 and March 2014.

The allegations relate to workers beating, kicking and stomping on sheep, and stitching wounds without anaesthetic.

Wool Producers Australia (WPA) president Geoff Fisken said the behaviour shown in the PETA video was “unacceptable and unsupportable”.

“Woolgrowers condemn this treatment of animals; we’re not in the business of treating animals like that and nor are shearers,” he said. Mr Fisken said the industry had spent $2.8 million in the past year on shearer training, focusing on sheep-handling techniques to prevent injury or cruelty.

NSW woolgrower and wool handling trainer Stacey Lugsdin, Hay, said she questioned the validity of the footage.

“I wouldn't be surprised it was staged,” she said.

Mrs Lugsdin said some shearers do get frustrated after they have been kicked by a sheep, and the reality of shearing was that sheep do get cut on occasion.

“I haven't seen behaviour like that [shearers hitting sheep] in 20 years,” she said

“Any shearer that behaved like that in my shed would be asked to leave immediately.”

Mrs Lugsdin said shearers were trained to handle sheep appropriately when they were kicking out while being shorn.

“They are taught the correct position and posture to be in to handle sheep correctly and effectively, while they are also taught animal ethics,” she said.

Mr Fisken said WPA was “extraordinarily disappointed by this isolated behaviour", but had not yet verified the age of the footage or other details. Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) - the research, development and marketing body for the Australian wool industry - said in a statement it “categorically and unequivocally condemns the mistreatment of animals”.

The RSPCA said shearing is stressful for sheep at anytime, and should be always carried out by trained and competent workers.

“The allegations are serious and will be investigated by RSPCA Inspectors as information comes to hand for potential breaches of the relevant state animal welfare legislation,” a statement from the group said.

- with Colin Bettles

Date: Newest first | Oldest first


Sam Trethewey
10/07/2014 5:33:14 PM

That shearer looks like Barnaby side on...
10/07/2014 7:09:27 PM

I can say being a grower and a shearer that I have not seen behaviour on that scale, I think a lot of the drama was one shearer in particular. If the people with the camera where so worried why did they not do anything? All shearers that I know will not waste time and effort bashing a sheep, it serves no purpose and does nobody any good.
Bill Bloggs.
10/07/2014 11:44:54 PM

Why do people take these fringe dwellers so seriously? They do not represent mainstream society. Nobody kicks a cow in the head. All that will get you is a broken foot, and that without causing the cow any great discomfort. Yet Australia's live cattle exports to Indonesia were suspended on the basis of a video showing a man kicking at a cow's head. Staged for the camera. That suspension caused cattle prices to collapse right across Australia. It cost people in the industry billions in losses. PETA and Animals Australia are not animal lovers. They are people haters.
11/07/2014 6:40:40 AM

If the footage is genuine, then the relevant authorities should investigate and potentially prosecute those involved. It would be very interesting to see how the film would stand up as evidence in court however. It is interesting though that none of the other shearers or workers seem to take any notice of the incidents. In all the sheds I've been in, someone would have stepped in to either help or avert the situation. I've never witnessed this sort of behaviour in a shed.
11/07/2014 9:10:32 AM

The taker of the film did not step in, gutless.
11/07/2014 9:55:12 AM

Anyone who has worked in sheds for more than a few years and claims they have not seen sheep bashed by shearers is lying. The industry has been caught out and needs to fix the problem instead of being cowardly about it and resorting to BS
11/07/2014 11:26:35 AM

Regretfully I agree with you Dave. Hand on heart we all know what goes on and have all seen it.
Bushie Bill
11/07/2014 11:27:50 AM

Sam, I don't think the Boof can shear...
Just wondering
11/07/2014 3:20:04 PM

Interesting the AWU came out on the CountryHour today saying this was an indication of the level of drug abuse by shearers in our industry.
11/07/2014 4:04:55 PM

The shearer shown bashing sheep is not likely to get another run in any shed and should be charged with animal cruelty because surely he can be identified from the footage taken.. Presumably PETA will provide him with a salary in the future. The RSPCA is probably not an independent enough organisation to investigate; having been caught weeing in the same pot as PETA too many times. Take a look at where these people are coming from to develop a view of the big picture here because they want the use of all animals to cease. Bet they would not have walked far in the horse and buggy days!
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Why do they forget the small producers they are the backbone of the industry. What. Did this
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Good these guys will be able to help the farmers they are treating like second class peasants.
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Lets' hope Troy Grant doesn't Delforce's website or it will be yet another NSW