Sheep and Goats

Most of the world’s more than 1 billion sheep and goats are grazed on range in countries such as Australia and New Zealand. Farmers in the United States raise approximately 5.4 million sheep each year. However, only 15.9% of sheep operations in the U.S. use primarily open or fenced range, with the rest of the operations comprised of farms or feedlots that raise sheep in similar intensive conditions as other farm animals.

The vast majority of sheep undergo the painful mutilations of having their tails cut off (tail docking) and castration. While not widely practiced in the U.S., extreme but less common mutilations include “mulesing” - the slicing off whole patches of skin around the tail area - and “short docking,” in which so much of the tail is removed that the animals are unable to cover their genitals and can suffer from rectal prolapses when the procedure damages the rectal muscles and nerves. Goats may also be subjected to painful dehorning and castration as routine procedures.

On high-welfare, pasture-based sheep farms, like those certified by the Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) program, tail docking is prohibited and castration is only permitted when uncontrolled breeding cannot be prevented by any other form of management. Dehorning is prohibited on AWA goat farms.