It’s easy to say all mulesing should be ceased immediately, but this doesn’t account for the realities we face in managing our animals’ wellbeing.
Woolgrowers know what can happen when sheep aren’t adequately protected from flystrike. On our farm in Armidale, we stopped mulesing for five years.
We received no significant price premium for our non-mulesed wool, worked harder to treat the ewes with extra chemical to control flystrike, had increased deaths because of breech strike and needed to crutch twice a year to reduce dark fibre contamination in the wool clip.
Ten years later we went back to mulesing with pain relief. The decision was not taken lightly. The major catalyst was a 117 centimetre rainfall year in a 76cm rainfall environment and a perception relying on chemicals to control breech strike was not sustainable, given reports of resistant blowflies and reduced fly protection across NSW.
In addition to using pain relief when we mules, we aim to have the ewes on a nutritious diet, happy and in optimal health. It is of great concern if buyers are “bypassing Aussie wool” because of a misconception Australian sheep welfare practices aren’t up to an acceptable standard. It is not the case.
We have a good story to tell in our animal welfare management and we should tell it and not be afraid to declare what we do on the National Wool Declaration.
At our annual conference in July this year, NSW Farmers passed a motion strongly encouraging producers to use pain relief when mulesing.
We also support making the National Wool Declaration mandatory. I encourage other wool growers to tell their stories. Most importantly we need to encourage young wool growers to stay involved in the industry and accept there may be challenges ahead.