A number of abusive sheep shearers were filmed in secret punching, kicking and stamping on sheep as they sheared the animals, a report in the UK documented last night.

Broadcast on Channel 4, with footage provided by animal rights group PETA Asia, the recordings detail a number of shearers carrying out unacceptable levels of violence against the ewes being shorn.

Workers on at least two shearing operations in the UK were seen stamping on the animals’ necks, with one repeatedly punching a sheep around the neck and shoulders.

In addition, a number of sheep were slammed off trailers and against ledges in a haphazard manner with force, while some animals were belted with shears to subdue them.

Sheep were also seen to be badly cut from rough shearings with some ewes observed in a bad way, requiring medical treatment from a variety of ailings.

It was noted on the Channel 4 snippet above that the contractors recorded could yet be brought to court over animal abuse.

The UK media outlet pointed out that the footage was only seen on a small proportion of UK farms.

‘Shocked and saddened’

In response to the documentary, British Wool issued a statement saying: “We are shocked and saddened by the behaviour of the (two) contractors filmed secretly.

“As a farmer-owned organisation, British Wool collects and sells the wool on behalf of British farmers. We are passionate and committed to continuously seeking to improve shearing skills and good practice in the UK.

“Every year we train more than a thousand people in all parts of the UK on two-day training courses that are tailored to their existing level of experience and skill.

“It is not within our remit to police the shearing industry: this responsibility lies with the Government and the RSPCA.

As announced during the programme, the RSPCA will be making a full investigation into the footage. We will provide them with any support required.

“We would like to point out that the vast majority of the thousands of shearers in the UK operate to the highest standards of animal welfare, which is an integral part of all our shearing courses.”

It should be noted that, in PETA’s release of the footage, an unfair depiction of the entire industry was given – with viewers urged to not buy wool products in general, in a clear agenda from the group. The actions of the shearers shown, however, remain unacceptable.