Little lamb sitting alone on the grass looking at the camera

Newborn lambs are freezing to death.

Some won't even survive the first 48 hours of life... and the reasons why this is happening may shock you.

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated May 16, 2023

Did you know over 10 million Australian lambs don’t survive their first winter?

A tiny lamb born in a fenced paddock has to fight to survive bone-chilling elements. Too small and weak to keep warm by herself, her mother’s efforts to protect her from cold temperatures, wind, and rain, often aren’t enough. She may not even survive her first 48 hours of life.

Estimates of how many lambs die before they are slaughtered range from 10 million to as many as 15 million (paywall) every single year in Australia.

The Australian meat and wool industry accepts these losses “of stock” as part of doing business. Shockingly, over 80% of these deaths are the result of preventable farm management practices including not providing adequate shelter, and breeding for multiple births which can lead to starvation or mis-mothering.

This image contains content which some may find confronting

A lamb in the field
Most lamb deaths in Australia are due to farm management practices including breeding for multiple births and the lack of adequate shelter.

Increasing profits while increasing suffering

By having sheep give birth in the winter months, lambs bred into the industry can be weaned during springtime when the fields are most fertile, reducing the cost of feed.

To increase profits further, the industry selectively breeds mothers to have twins and triplets – and further genetic manipulation has resulted in up to six lambs from each birth. Following years of selective breeding, having more than one lamb is now common for sheep used in the meat and wool industries.

Not only does breeding for multiple births put enormous physical strain on mother sheep, but the lambs born may be smaller and even more likely to perish from exposure.

The old saying goes 'where there's livestock there's dead stock', so the more livestock you've got the more dead stock you've got.
Simon Teate
Sheep Farmer
(quoted in ABC Rural, 2015)

Many in the meat and wool industry, however, accept these cruel deaths because the overall number of lambs born is higher.

Sadly, while most lamb deaths are from these preventable farming practices and just 10% or less are attributed to predation, native dingoes in Victoria are being poisoned, trapped and shot in the name of ‘protecting sheep’.

Ultimately, even if they survive one or many winters, all sheep who are bred for their wool will be slaughtered for their meat at just a fraction of their natural lifespan.

How you can help spare lambs

Lambs are freezing because of the demand for their meat and wool. You can help protect gentle, sensitive lambs from suffering by joining the growing number of Australians making kinder choices for animals and the planet we share. Order your free guide to compassionate living and ‘Join the Evolution’ today!

order your free guide

Learn more

Watch short film, Willow and Claude

The short documentary film created by Collective Fashion Justice founder, Emma Hakansson, explores the issues related to knitwear production including the reality for sheep used by the wool industry.

Meet lamb rescuer, Karina

Thankfully, caring people like Karina from Lamb Care Australia are spreading kindness and saving lives by giving freezing winter lambs the love and care they deserve. Watch Karina’s story here: