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Trials of mulesing alternatives identify issues for further development

Mar '07
Preliminary field trials of two potential alternatives to replace conventional mulesing have highlighted the need to have solutions which can cope with the variability in Merino sheep across the country.

The next step in the development of the alternatives will require both the expertise of the commercial partners' registration and marketing abilities and the commitment of woolgrowers willing to offer animals for large-scale initial market sector trials.

Project Manager of Blowfly Control at Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), Jules Dorrian, said that woolgrowers involved in the first round of trials of both the clips and the intradermal injection were generally very positive about the results achieved. However, the trials did identify a number of issues that needed continued research and development work.

"The first trials of the clips in 2006 involved 86 woolgrowers around Australia. Issues thrown up in the trials included clip design, size of lamb, and degree of wrinkle.

"Further work has been undertaken to address these issues and AWI is now preparing for a controlled release trial in 2007.

"We are inviting Merino woolgrowers to participate in the trials, with the aim of assessing the performance of the alternatives across a wide range of Merino types and geographic conditions.

"The results from the large-scale trials will give us a clearer picture of how woolgrowers can best manage the impact of the sheep blowfly after 2010 when the current mulesing procedure has been phased out."

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