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Skintraction on show at Dubbo
25
Aug '09
Sheep treated with the experimental flystrike prevention treatment Skintraction will be on public display for the first time at the National Merino Show and Sale in Dubbo, NSW this week.

Presently undergoing further on-property trials, the intradermal technology uses sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) to reduce wrinkle and increase the bare area around the breech and tail of sheep. A compound in the same chemical group is the preferred active ingredient in varicose vein treatment in humans. SLS is also a common ingredient in household items such as toothpaste and shampoo.

Australian Wool Innovation continues to fund research by Cobbett technology into SkintractionM. It is one of a raft of possible flystrike prevention alternatives. Clips are now commercially available through Leader Products and ongoing research and development into breeding tools such as Australian Sheep Breeding Values are set to be released in coming weeks after final validation has been completed.

Skintraction treated animals will be on show at Dubbo alongside their unmulesed and mulesed siblings. More than 1000 fine and medium wool Merino lambs across regional NSW have been treated with the intradermal technology to date. The application of SLS involves very little stress for the animal, according to a CSIRO welfare assessment. The formulation also contains the powerful local antiseptic, benzol alcohol. Together with SLS, it is placed into the skin of treated animals by air pressure using the Pulse Needlefree applicator. The same technology is used to vaccinate US troops in war zones and is commonly used to vaccinate livestock in the USA.

During 2008 Skintraction field trials, Cobbett Technologies trialled the optimal settings for the Pulse applicator, with various pressure, volume, tube diameter and spacing variations. This year, field trials are exploring the best patterns of application around the breech and tail of animals.

Results so far have been very encouraging, according to Stud Merino Breeders Stuart and David McBurnie of Gilgandra, NSW. 'As far as the breech is concerned, I would defy anyone to say this technology is not working. From last year I could see the application on the tail needed some refining and this has now happened with sheep treated this year. It is genuinely encouraging,' David said.

However, science cannot be rushed, says Cobbett Technologies director Peter St Vincent-Welch. Registration of Skintraction relies on approval by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA). While the release of results cannot take place until after the formal APVMA registration process, industry can observe the progress to date at the Dubbo show.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI)

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