The animal rights group Peta has released video it says was taken covertly in 19 shearing sheds in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
The footage shows sheep being roughly handled, punched in the face and stamped upon. One sheep was beaten with a hammer while another was shown having a deep cut crudely sewn up.
Peta said its investigators obtained had the images after gaining employment with farms and shearing contractors over the past year.
Claire Fryer, a campaign coordinator at Peta Australia, declined to tell Guardian Australia the exact location of the shearing sheds, citing concerns about the safety of the whistleblowers.
“I can say, though, that abuse was witnessed in each of the 19 shearing sheds and that a total of 70 staff were documented abusing sheep,” she said.
“We didn’t see any vet care for any of the sheep and despite, them putting up no resistance, they were horribly abused. Sheep are very gentle animals and this was terrifying for them.”
Shearers are unusually paid by volume, not by the hour, which encourages fast, rough work which cuts the bodies of sheep. Put simply, there is no such thing as humane wool.