Wool­grower calls for mulesing halt

Albany Extra - - Extra News - Sjanna San­dalova

The prac­tice of mulesing has been at the cen­tre of de­bate since 2004, when a prom­ise by the Aus­tralian wool in­dus­try to phase it out was over­ruled.

Mulesing is the con­tro­ver­sial prac­tice in which farm­ers cut away skin from the breech of a sheep to pre­vent fly­strike.

How­ever, the sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dure has been dubbed cruel by an­i­mal rights ac­tivists.

Lo­cal wool­grower David Thomp­son stopped mulesing 14 years ago, but says there is very lit­tle com­mer­cial rea­son for farm­ers to stop.

“Ninety per cent of wool­grow­ers in Aus­tralia still mules, be­cause many peo­ple see it as an es­sen­tial way of pre­vent­ing fly­strike,” he said.

“Wool is a lux­ury, not an es­sen­tial fi­bre; my fear is that the brands will just move away from Aus­tralian wool and buy else­where like South Africa, New Zealand and South Amer­ica, where mulesing is il­le­gal.

“It’s more of the high-end fash­ion brands; the first thing they ask is, do you mules your sheep?

“My con­cern is that we will get locked out of those mar­kets be­cause of mulesing.”

Mr Thomp­son said although it was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion for a wool­grower to stop mulesing, he be­lieved even­tu­ally the Aus­tralian wool in­dus­try might be forced to find bet­ter al­ter­na­tives. “I worry we aren’t ad­dress­ing the is­sue as an in­dus­try — it needs to be driven by the stud in­dus­try, it’s not up to the com­mer­cial peo­ple to drive non-mulesing, ” he said.

“We’ve been warned ev­ery year that the brands want us to stop mulesing and the ar­gu­ment’s al­ways the same — well, if we stop mulesing, the sheep will get flies.

“We need non-sur­gi­cal ways of do­ing it and there are chem­i­cals avail­able but for me the sim­plest op­tion is to breed sheep that don’t have wrin­kles around the tail.”

Land­mark Katan­ning branch man­ager Tom Bowen said the lack of bet­ter meth­ods to pre­vent fly-strike was the main prob­lem.

“If there was a vi­able al­ter­na­tive, most of the sheep breed­ers in Aus­tralia will look at it, as long as there’s no detri­men­tal ef­fects to the an­i­mal,” he said.

“There’s also a re­sis­tance to peo­ple buy­ing non-mulesed sheep be­cause they aren’t pre­pared to take the risk of the sheep be­ing prone to fly­strike.”

Mr Thomp­son be­lieved the in­dus­try had been slow to adapt.

“I think we should lis­ten to our cus­tomers and work a lot harder to hit that tar­get,” he said. “The in­dus­try has been say­ing it’s only a few years away be­fore mulesing will be phased out, and here we are in 2017 — there’s peo­ple like us that swapped over years ago.”

David Thomp­son only breeds sheep with no wrin­kles in their skin to avoid the mulesing process.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.