Update: Patagonia agrees to stop buying wool from Ovis 21 following Peta US investigation
Warning: This article contains very graphic images and footage
Stella McCartney has severed ties with a wool supplier after horrifying footage emerged which appears to show lambs being mutilated and abused by farmers.
An undercover People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) video appears to show lambs' tails being cut off, their throats being slit and the animals being skinned while they are still alive.
Staff at Argentina-based company Ovis 21 are also seen punching sheep in the face, kicking them and throwing the animals around the farm, which supplies wool to clothing company Patagonia.
Peta is now calling on Patagonia to stop buying and selling wool products. Among the designers sourcing from Ovis 21 was Ms McCartney, who uses no fur, leather or exotic skins in her collections.
The lifelong vegetarian and Peta supporter, who is the daughter of animal rights advocates Paul McCartney and the late Linda McCartney, was told by Peta US about the investigation.
The 43-year-old said: "After conducting our own investigation in Argentina and throughout our supply chain, following a very distressful viewing of Peta US footage, we immediately ceased buying wool from Ovis 21.
"We are deeply saddened and shocked by the cruelty seen on the footage, as animal welfare is at the heart of everything we do.
"This is a huge set back to help saving the grasslands in Patagonia. We are now even more determined to continue our fight for animal rights in fashion together and monitor even more closely all the suppliers involved in this industry.
"We are also looking into vegan wool as well, in the same manner we were able to develop and incorporate high-end alternatives to leather and fur over the years."
Among the distressing scenes, lambs could be seen having their body parts cut off and being violently abused by staff.
The footage shows lambs crying out, gasping and even moving after workers sawed open their throats and snapped their heads backwards.
Sheep could be seen just metres away, watching the disturbing scenes.
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Peta Director Mimi Bekhechi said: "Having witnessed an astounding level of cruelty to sheep in every shearing shed Peta US visited in Australia, the US and, now, Argentina, it’s high time that companies and consumers ditch real wool.
"Today, finding alternatives to hide, fur and fleece is easy, and no animal has to suffer when businesses make kind choices. We thank Stella for rejecting cruelty in the wool industry and hope Patagonia and others will follow suit."
Peta US is filing a complaint with Argentinean authorities, citing Argentina's federal animal-protection law.
Clothing brand Patagonia Works responded to Peta's footage, saying: "Two practices highlighted in the video, it should be noted, are standard across the wool industry, for good reason.
"Castrating select members of the flock helps keep it manageable and eliminates overcrowding, while tail docking reduces instances of infection in sheep and facilitates hygiene. What’s critical is that these procedures be done humanely, in a way governed by enforceable, uniform standards.
"We are not immune to shocking images. There is no excuse for violent shearing methods and inhumane slaughter. We are investigating the practices shown. We will work with Ovis 21 to make needed corrections and improvements, and report back to our customers and the public on the steps we will take.
"We apologise for the harm done in our name; we will keep you posted."
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