Mulesing phase-out must continue
The RSPCA is disappointed with today's announcement by Australian Wool Innovation that the wool industry won't meet its 2010 deadline to phase out mulesing. We have urged the industry to increase momentum in its pursuit of alternatives and where mulesing is deemed absolutely necessary, we call on all producers to use pain relief.
The wool industry must not lose momentum in its quest to phase out mulesing and today's announcement should not be treated as an excuse to relax or slow down.
The RSPCA supports an integrated approach to the prevention and control of blowfly strike in sheep. Such an approach should include animal husbandry and farm management practices that take into account:
- the timing of shearing and crutching
- effective tail docking (should that be required)
- strategic application of chemical treatments (should they be required to control flies)
- effective control of scouring (especially the control of worms) and
- regular inspection of the flock.
Accompanying these strategies should be a breeding and selection program that aims to reduce wrinkle and increase the bare area on a sheep's breech, as well as removing susceptible sheep from the flock. This will increase the flock's overall resistance to fly-strike.
The RSPCA believes mulesing should only be carried out in areas where there is a high risk of fly-strike and when it is in the long-term welfare benefit of the animal. Mulesing must only be performed as a measure of last resort and where alternative humane options are not viable. Mulesing must always be performed by an accredited operator using pain relief. Lambs that will be sold at an early age for meat should not be mulesed.
The wool industry has come a long way in a very short period of time but they must remain committed to phasing out mulesing and continue to actively research humane alternatives.