Weekly Times | July 15, 2014 | Nicola Bell
THE shearing industry has defended its profession against videos released by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals last week showing shearers abusing sheep.
Shearing contractors Jason and Diddi Wingfield, of Baldwin Shearing, at Cobram, said they were “disappointed and disgusted” by the footage (below).
Employing from 25 to 50 people, the Wingfields said they wouldn’t tolerate sheep abuse in their team.
“The approach in our gang is on education and training,” Mrs Wingfield said.
She said they now had 15 shearers on their books completing traineeships and the flow-on effects from learning proper footwork and handling was huge.
“They take pride in what they do and they really are professional,” she said.
“People do get frustrated, but if they are trained they have the skills to handle it, instead of reacting in the way of those in the video.”
Australian Wool Innovation has invested $2.8 million in the training of shearers and shedhands in world’s best practice animal welfare in the past year alone and more than $7 million in the past five years.
The Shearing Contractors Association of Australia said it was appalled by the footage and had contacted all of its members to reinforce the need to have “zero tolerance” towards animal abuse.
SCAA spokesman Jason Letchford said the association applauded the investigation as it was a reminder to all industries to be vigilant when it came to animal rights and welfare.
Mortlake-based shearing contractor Nick Carmody has also strongly defended the industry.
“I think this kind of behaviour is definitely a minority,” Mr Carmody said.
Operating his Shadwell Shearing contracting business, Mr Carmody shears in more than 20 sheds each year and said he wouldn’t “tolerate” actions seen in the videos.
“It is just general knowledge that, that is not acceptable,” he said.
Mr Carmody said the videos from PETA were disappointing because the public has only been given footage of the “bad side” of shearing and they haven’t seen good shearers in action.