AR-FAQ - #62

#62 Anything wrong with wool, silk, down?

What's wrong with wool? Scientists over the years have bred a Merino sheep which is exaggeratedly wrinkled. The more wrinkles, the more wool. Unfortunately, greater profits are rarely in the sheep's best interests. In Australia, more wrinkles mean more perspiration and greater susceptibility to fly-strike, a ghastly condition resulting from maggot infestation in the sweaty folds of the sheep's over-wrinkled skin. To counteract this, farmers perform an operation without anesthetic called "mulesing", in which sections of flesh around the anus are sliced away, leaving a painful, bloody wound. Without human interference, sheep would grow just enough wool to protect them from the weather, but scientific breeding techniques have ensured that these animals have become wool-producing monstrosities. Their unnatural overload of wool (often half their body weight) brings added misery during summer months when they often die from heat exhaustion. Also, one million sheep die in Australia alone each year from exposure to cold after shearing. Every year, in Australia alone, about ten million lambs die before they are more than a few days old. This is due largely to unmanageable numbers of sheep and inadequate stockpersons. Of UK wool, 27 percent is "skin wool", pulled from the skins of slaughtered sheep and lambs. What's wrong with silk? It is the practice to boil the cocoons that still contain the living moth larvae in order to obtain the silk. This produces longer silk threads than if the moth was allowed to emerge. The silkworm can certainly feel pain and will recoil and writhe when injured. What's wrong with down? The process of live-plucking is widespread. The terrified birds are lifted by their necks, with their legs tied, and then have all their body feathers ripped out. The struggling geese sustain injuries and after their ordeal are thrown back to join their fellow victims until their turn comes round again. This torture, which has been described as "extremely cruel" by veterinary surgeons, and even geese breeders, begins when the geese are only eight weeks old. It is then repeated at eight-week intervals for two or three more sessions. The birds are then slaughtered. The "lucky" birds are plucked dead, i.e., they are killed first and then plucked. MT