Statistics from the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) show that 72,393 bales (1 bale = 175 kg) of wool from non-mulesed sheep were offered for sale between July 2012 and February 2013. This is 17.9% more than in the same period last year; and is 129.2% more than when records were first kept in 2008-09.
Nearing the end of the last decade, there was a sharp outcry from animal activists to abolish the system of wool mulesing, as mulesing is a very painful method to shear wool from a sheep.
Global retailers prodded by animal activists, too jumped in to the fray and demanded non-mulesed wool. In April 2009, China the biggest buyer of Australian wool too demanded non-mulesed wool on pressure from its European buyers.
“It is not yet possible to stop mulesing in all areas of Australia. Many of these farmers apply a pain relief product when the lambs are mulesed to minimise the stress for the lamb,” says a top expert from the Australian wool industry.
Another statistic reveals that 151,106 bales of wool were offered for sale between July 2012 and February 2013 from sheep that were treated with a pain relief product while mulesing. This is also 37.2% more than in the same period last year and is 435.1% more since 2008-09.
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) funded by the wool growers tells fibre2fashion, “When it comes to fly strike prevention (FSP) AWI has two very clear roles: Fast-track the research development and extension (RD&E) to find alternatives and report the RD&E progress and provide support to retailers, brands and welfare groups.”
Animal health and welfare is AWI’s highest research priority with over half the on-farm R&D budget currently invested in this area. Since 2005 AWI has invested AUD45 million in animal health and welfare RD&E including over AUD26 million on flystrike prevention. A post-operative pain relief product - TriSolfen has been developed by Animal Ethics Pty Ltd and available since 2006. Research continues into pre-operative and post operative analgesia.
Some of the progress made by AWI in FSP R&D includes; Development of Anti-flystrike clips; Development of a post-operative pain relief product; Development of intra-dermals as a breech modification alternative; Development of tools to assist growers to make more informed decisions; and improved welfare outcomes through ongoing improvements to management practices.
When quizzed on alternative methods to mulesing, the expert says, “Breeding sheep which are naturally resistant to blow flies. Australia’s sheep breeders are making excellent progress with this approach to breeding. Products are being developed which can be applied painlessly to lambs that produce a similar effect in resistance to blow flies as that is obtained from mulesing.”
He adds, “Insecticides are applied to sheep at strategic times during the year to disrupt the activities of blow flies on sheep and some farm management procedures have been modified to provide greater prevention from blow flies.”
Fibre2fashion News Desk - India