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By Jonathan J. Ariel - posted Friday, 28 March 2008

Future school textbooks may not reveal it, but in early March 2008, the Kingdom of Sweden declared war on Australia.

Once upon a time the Vikings were noble men and brave warriors. These days they are little more than a coterie of cowards and myth makers, unwilling or unable to fight for Christian values in a country slowly but surely being Islamified. In Scandinavia today, two nations stand tall and proud - the Danes and the Icelanders - while two others tip toe from Christian ideals and make a mockery of western values - the Swedes and their former colonial subjects, the Norwegians.

The Swedish motivated boycott of Australian wool sales to the European Union is a case in point. It threatens $370 million worth of exports by dressing up protectionism as a righteous attack on the animal husbandry practice of mulesing sheep - practiced so as to reduce the incidence of flystrike.


Calls for a EU-wide boycott followed the capturing on camera in Stockholm of Mr Kevin Craig, a consultant to the Australian Wool and Sheep Industry Taskforce, offering a holiday to Australia to animal rights militant, Ms Katarina Lingehag Ekholm, in exchange for her turning down an interview with Sweden’s TV4’s current affairs program, Kalla Fakta (Cold Facts).

A spokesman for the taskforce's marketing arm, Australian Wool Innovation, denied the trip was a bribe, but admitted Mr Craig had acted improperly.

The footage has heightened the gossip among Stockholm’s chattering classes over mulesing, where 19 retailers have banned selling goods made with Australian wool.

What is mulesing?

Mulesing refers to the surgical removal of strips of wool-bearing wrinkle skin from around the rear of a sheep. Mulesing is common practice in Australia, and will be phased out by December 31, 2010. Its aim is to prevent sheep being slowly eaten alive by maggots. This devastating condition is called flystrike.

Mulesing is considered by the Australian Government, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Australian Veterinary Association to be a compromise in providing for the welfare of sheep


Mulesing is named after Mr J.W.H. Mules, who, while shearing a ewe which had suffered several fly-strikes, Mules' hand slipped and his blade shears removed some skin from her hind end. After performing this procedure on his other sheep, Mules noticed that it prevented the occurrence of flystrike. Over time, this procedure was refined and proved to reduce flystrike. It was approved for use in Australia some 70 years ago.


For young lambs older than two months, mulesing takes one to two minutes and the discomfort period lasts for approximately two weeks by which time healing is almost, if not entirely, complete. Lambs rarely die or become ill after mulesing.


Sweden’s government echoes animal rights and animal welfare activists’ dogma that considers mulesing to be inhumane and unnecessary.

In October, 2004, American fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch Co. responded to massive pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to boycott Australian merino wool due in part to the use of mulesing in Australia. A few weeks later, representatives of the Australian wool industry hoisted the white flag, voting to phase out the practice of mulesing in Australia by December 2010.

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About the Author

Jonathan J. Ariel is an economist and financial analyst. He holds a MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management. He can be contacted at

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