AWI to spend $550,000 on grower flystrike training

Sheep Central, February 11, 2022

Merino sheep in full wool in race before shearing.

AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation will outlay $550,000 to support one-on-one support for growers to combat flystrike, seen as a risk in moving to non-mulesed wool production.

AWI is calling for expressions of interest for 15 agriculture and vet sheep consultants across the nation to be trained and accredited to deliver the training to at least 600 growers across Australia.

AWI’s new “Moving to a Non-Mulesed Merino Enterprise” project is targeted at growers who are, or are planning to, manage flystrike without mulesing and aligns with the industry’s Wool 2030 strategy and follows calls by many growers for more information about this option. The five-year program adds to existing flystrike management workshops.

AWI chairman Jock Laurie said AWI remains committed to supporting the rights of all growers to choose how they manage their flock.

“AWI recognises the critical importance of all flystrike prevention measures and continues to support all wool growers in their choices through provision of a diversity of best practice information, designed to deliver the best outcomes for sheep, across a range of different climate and operating environments,” he said.

Mr Laurie said the $550,000 was an initial investment, and raised the prospect of further investment if it was successful.

“With these programs …. we need to understand that they are going to work and taken up, that there is actual demand in that space.”

He said AWI would also continue to support all growers, whether they wanted to continue to mules or move to non-mulesing.

Mr Laurie said while AWI has invested significantly in projects to support growers looking to move to a non-mulesed enterprise — including research in breeding for flystrike resistance — this is the first significant AWI investment in an active extension program targeting growers looking for support to reduce reliance on mulesing.

Today’s announcement takes AWI’s investment in breeding for flystrike resistance related RD&E projects since 2005 to $10.4 million.

More non-mulesed wool market feedback needed

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said the peak grower body welcomed the increase in expenditure and the overall objectives of the ‘Moving to a Non-Mulesed Merino Enterprise’ project from AWI, to assist in addressing this issue in a tailored manner.

““It is incredibly important that those growers who are considering transitioning away from mulesing are aware of what is involved in making this change, given it will be easier for some types of sheep than others, and in some instances not practical at all and will have to continue to rely on surgical mulesing to ensure lifetime animal welfare outcomes,” she said.

“A complimentary component of work that WoolProducers would like to see conducted in conjunction with this overall project, is the provision of more market intel from our overseas customers on the issue of mulesing.

“The ‘Moving to a Non-Mulesing Merino Enterprise’ project will go someway to addressing the ‘how’, but what we would also like to see more emphasis on the ‘why’ component’.

“Whilst growers are increasingly becoming aware of the perception of mulesing from our customers, and we are starting to see significant premiums for some non-mulesed QA systems, we believe that the provision of specific advice on customer attitudes and specifications, which AWI is well-placed to provide, would great assist woolgrowers with their on-farm management decisions,” she said.

42pc of growers intend to cease mulesing within five years

Mr Laurie said AWI is responding to increasing requests for information and support from growers seeking assistance to specifically reduce their reliance on mulesing.

A key finding of the June 2021 AWI and MLA Wool and Sheep Meat Survey, was that 42 percent of respondents currently mulesing said they intended to cease mulesing in the next five years, he said.

‘Moving to a Non-Mulesed Merino Enterprise’ is stage 4 of a flystrike extension program designed to provide growers and their advisors with a range of options to assist them with flystrike prevention and treatment, including one-on-one support and coaching.

It involves a one-day workshop and promotion of AWI-accredited industry advisors capable of providing hands-on, one-on-one assistance targeted at growers looking for additional support and coaching to implement their property-specific, whole-of-farm plan.

The Moving to a Non-Mulesed Merino Enterprise project is the latest stage of a $1,000,500, six-year extension program:

  1. that focuses on the provision of tactical flystrike prevention, monitoring and treatment information (It’s Fly Time!), through
  2. developing a property specific plan for strategic flystrike control using an integrated pest management approach (SimpliFly), to
  3. increase awareness and skills in breeding for flystrike resistance to minimize flystrike risk, chemical resistance and reliance on crutching (ClassiFly), to
  4. a one-day workshop for woolgrowers looking to move to a non-mulesed Merino enterprise (Moving to a Non-Mulesed Merino Enterprise, StrateFly), and
  5. the opportunity to engage AWI-trained and -accredited advisors under a, fee-for-service consultancy arrangement between themselves and the advisor. The wool grower will receive hands-on coaching and support in the implementation of their whole-of-farm plan (AmpliFly), developing their confidence and capacity to reduce reliance on mulesing, optimise chemical use and increase whole farm profitability.

SimpliFly will be available from mid-2022. ClassiFly should be available from January 2023 and Stage 4 Moving to a Non-Mulesed Merino Enterprise during 2023.


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  1. Doug Wright, February 14, 2022

    AWI has recognised that the future for wool depends on it being from non-mulesed sheep. Price-wise, wool from mulesed sheep is already being discounted and many brands will not use this wool. So AWI has to be seen to be doing something about this.
    The work; however, has been done to breed sheep that do not need to be mulesed. The studs involved had ceased mulesing by 2006. As a result, commercial Merino producers have been reaping the benefits since. By using the genetic solution they have not only eliminated mulesing, but produced sheep that do not need jetting, are highly fertile and being plain bodied, are able to be shorn.
    So my advice to AWI would be to contact studs and commercial producers as soon as possible to find the what and how of the process. In two sheep generations a non-mulesed flock can be produced and mulesing can be a thing of the past.
    I can do no more than tell it as it is as a commercial Merino breeder, there is no going back. We now have a product that the present and future market demands.

  2. Tom Casey, February 13, 2022

    I hope it’s a good barbecue. Most retailers have plenty of advice with their products. No wonder they need more levies.

  3. Martin Oppenheimer, February 12, 2022

    No mention of MLA’s “project to aid non-mulesing sheep producers” announced in January?

    Are our two sheep research, development and extension companies working together or not?

    • Don Mudford, February 12, 2022

      I think MLA were tied of waiting for AWI to catch on that the industry needed to move. Congratulations to AWI for making a start. However, let’s be clear, non-mulesed growers are not getting a premium for producing an article to specification. Mulesed wool is and has been receiving a discount for quite some time. The mulesed wool discount is getting larger by each order. Don’t hold onto your mulesed wool in store, offload it asap.

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