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Don Hamblin reaffirms industry's commitment
28
Feb '08
Don Hamblin, Chairman of the Australian Wool and Sheep Industry Taskforce, has recently reaffirmed the industry's commitment to the phase-out of mulesing and confirmed that Australian Wool Innovation's (AWI) effort to deliver alternatives is meeting expectations.

AWI has spent approximately AUD$15 million in the past four years on the development of alternatives. The commitment to phase out mulesing by 2010 remains.

The three most promising projects are:
• Breech clips – applied to the loose skin, causing it to fall off, maximizing the bare surface;

• Intradermal (through the skin) needle less injections – needle-free technology which causes the skin in the applied area to die, scab and fall off, leaving a larger bare area; and

• Genetic research – development of a naturally bare breech sheep.

Late last year data from research conducted by Professor Paul Hemsworth, director of the Animal Welfare Science Centre at the University of Melbourne, gave the breech clips animal welfare approval.

The main finding of the study was that the clips have only a mild impact on the biology of the lambs, and thus have only a relatively minor risk to animal welfare.

Professor Hemsworth's research also indicated that lambs treated with clips had the same response as those in the 'control' treatment, where lambs were held in mulesing cradles for the same amount of time as those that were clipped, but weren't treated.

The clips and other alternatives are vital to protecting flocks against flystrike, a horrific and potentially deadly condition whereby blowflies lay eggs in the damp areas around the sheep's breech area. The eggs then hatch and create painful wounds.

The RSPCA, the Australian Veterinary Association and the Australian Government acknowledge that mulesing is still a critical method of combating this devastating condition until alternatives are in place.

Wool Is Best

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