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Woolgrower networks support phase out
22
Oct '08
Key woolgrower network group leaders from across Australia have endorsed the phase out of mulesing in the national sheep flock.

Following a recent mulesing R&D update meeting, a consensus emerged among woolgrower network representatives: the phase out of mulesing is necessary to meet the requirements of international retailers and customers of Australian wool, and on-farm methods to achieve the phase out are available.

There was confidence expressed that producers can and will begin to deploy husbandry techniques and breeding strategies that will reduce the risk of breech strike. Ongoing AWI R&D efforts would continue to validate emerging and new technologies for managing breech strike risk.

Chairmen and Co-ordinators of the AWI Extension Networks attended the meeting. They included:
The Sheep's Back (WA) - Bob Hall, Roger House, Digby Stretch
Bestwool/Bestlamb (Vic) - Jamie Ramage
8x5 (Tas) - James Walch
Leading Sheep (Qld) - Jack Banks
Bestprac (Pastoral zone) - Stuart Mitchell
SheepConnect (NSW) Andrew Burgess/Carol Watson

The three key points agreed to as a position statement are:
Managing breech strike has always involved the integrated use of mulesing, jetting, crutching and shearing in a system that best suits individual sheep, local environments and farm management systems. Growers are thinking about additional integrated tools that will best suit individual businesses into the future.

There are a number of tools that are available to support the phase out of mulesing and manage breech strike. Changed husbandry practices and breeding tools are available now - with clips, intradermals and other tools in various stages of development and refinement.

The long term strategy is to breed productive, high fleece weight sheep that do not require mulesing. The risk of breech strike can be significantly reduced by selecting animals for low body and breech wrinkle. Good progress can be made in a reasonable time frame because the heritability of breech wrinkle is similar to micron. It is possible to select animals for high fleece weight with low body and breech wrinkle.

The extension networks Chairs and Co-ordinators also confirmed that their groups will be working with AWI to develop programs, training and demonstrations to support growers to modify management and production systems to breed more productive sheep that do not require mulesing.

Australian Wool Innovation Limited

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