Sheep shearing © Tim Scrivener© Tim Scrivener

The viewing public of ITV’s This Morning programme have dismissed claims by animal rights activists that wearing wool is cruel.

In a poll conducted during the programme on Wednesday (27 September), 92% said they supported the wool industry – despite claims by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) that the cruelty of sheep shearing is comparable to that in the fur industry.

Just 8% of the 5,400 viewers who voted during the programme thought shearing sheep was cruel. PETA activist Elisa Allen claimed that sheep mutilation and abuse during shearing is rife across the entire global industry.

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But the organisation has visited just 30 shearing systems across three continents.

Undercover video

The This Morning programme showed a clip from a video taken by the organisation during an undercover operation in Australia that showed shearers hitting sheep in the face while they were being shorn.

Presenters Philip Schofield and Holly Whilloughby said it was the only section of the video that could be shown because of its graphic content.

Watch the video clip showing the debate on the This Morning programme.

NFU livestock board chairman Charles Sercombe, who farms more than 4,500 sheep in Leicestershire, condemned the actions of the men in the video.

“They wouldn’t shear my sheep and if they behaved like that they would be thrown straight off my farm,” he told the show.

“Our sheep are sheared in a much more sensible and humane way. It’s done by highly skilled professionals who we have year on year because of the quality of the job they carry out, the quality of the work they do and the way they respect my sheep.

But Ms Allen said that if Mr Sercombe was speaking the truth he was an anomaly and not indicative of the industry as a whole.

She also refused to accept that shearing is done for the benefit of flock health to ensure they do not get fly strike or heat stress, insisting Mr Sercombe did it purely for profit.

‘Load of rubbish’

 “I think we shouldn’t delude ourselves, it’s not as though sheep were just dropping dead left and right before humans invented the sheep shearing process.”

Mr Sercombe said Ms Allen’s argument was the “biggest load of rubbish ever”.

“Wool is a naturally occurring product, it’s far better for the environment than man-made fibres in my opinion.

“We wouldn’t have the moors and mountains that people continue to want to visit and enjoy; it’s farmed agriculture that has created that landscape and will do into the future.”

Mr Sercombe added: “It’s essential that we utilise those resources to feed and clothe the growing global population.

“Agriculture is part of the solution and not the problem as being portrayed by Elisa in your studio.”