Brokers seek further extension of National Wool Declaration review

Terry Sim March 26, 2021

NCWSBA president Rowan Woods.

WOOL brokers have sought a further extension of the Australian Wool Exchange’s National Wool Declaration review to allow consideration of the final peer-reviewed results from recent sheep freeze branding research.

AWEX has already extended the review’s submission deadline from 24 March to 6 April, following feedback about the timing of the review and the wider release of the research’s preliminary results by Sheep Central last week.

However, National Council of Wool Brokers of Australia president Rowan Woods confirmed the council on Wednesday sought another extension until the final research report was in.

“We’ve only seen the preliminary research results and we want to reserve making our submission until we’ve considered the final preliminary results.

“For the sake of six weeks or whatever it is, we don’t think it would matter,” he said.

“We felt that we would be going off early and half-cocked if we didn’t have the final report.

“We think that it is a significant enough issue that we shouldn’t be rushing any sort of a review just for the sake of meeting a date,” Mr Woods said.

“What’s a couple of months going to matter?”

Mr Woods said the NCWSBA has been advised that the peer-reviewed preliminary research results would be available in late May.

“So we are saying the board, on behalf of national council members, who represent over 80 percent of wool sold at auction, urges AWEX to extend the deadline for submissions to the 2021 National Wool Declaration review until after the final peer-reviewed report on the research is available.”

Sheep Central last week published Dr Ellen Jongman’s preliminary findings on the sheep freeze branding field trial, including a preliminary results table, after learning the data and Dr Jongman’s conclusions had been on the National Primary Industries Animal Welfare RD&E Strategy website since December last year.

One of Dr Jongman’s conclusions was that freeze branding (with meloxicam pain relief) appears to be more painful than tail docking and castration alone, and similar to mulesing (with meloxicam), on the day of application.

Dr Jongman and sheep freeze branding developer John Steinfort have said that the research results have not been finalised, but Dr Steinfort said Dr Jongman had told him “the final preliminary results” will be provided to him before Easter.

Neither Dr Jongman, sheep freeze branding developer John Steinfort nor AWEX CEO Mark Grave have been able to guarantee that the final research results and report would be available to all wool industry stakeholders before the 6 April deadline.

When asked if AWEX had decided to push back the review’s submission deadline, Mr Grave said all submissions will be considered after the closing date of close of business 6 April.

“The board will consider submissions after that date, this is in line with previous reviews.”


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  1. Jim Gordon, March 28, 2021

    Rowan Woods, good on you for taking the time to get the decisions right. This is critical for NCWSBA to give a clear message to the industry, so then growers can fall in behind and start producing what is desired. From my point of view, we just need to separate non-mulesed wool from breech-modified wool.

  2. Simon Gatenby, March 27, 2021

    In my opinion, we should be open to questioning the research of Dr Jongman, rather than it be part of a decision around the NWD. From my own observations of pain relief applied at lamb marking, I’m struggling with her findings from the freeze branding research. Pain relief works, so why it doesn’t mask the freeze branding is worth further investigation. Maybe it’s not severe enough pain to warrant the pain relief?

    Freezing (with dry ice) is used widely across human treatments, for burning off warts, moles etcetera, with little complaint (stinging sensation) from the human patients, and without pain relief.

    To even extend a NWD decision around this research is puzzling. Given the researcher has used pain relief on the subjects, should it not be starting to dawn on everyone that pain relief is the most important thing to identify in the NWD. It should be the number one.

    • Jim Gordon, March 27, 2021

      Yes Simon, we are all on the same page. First category: wool from sheep with untouched breeches. Second category: Wool from sheep with breech modifications with pain relief. Third category: Wool from sheep with breech modifications without pain relief. Fourth category: Is wool for sheep with pain relief used for castration, tail docking and ear tagging ie. lamb marking. Done and dusted. This could be a very simple National Wool Declaration, letting sheep producers have complete control of what they want to do.

      • Simon Gatenby, March 29, 2021

        No Jim, you are still on your page. It’s great that you are non-mulesed, but given you lamb mark without pain relief, it’s a bit of a hollow claim. Lamb marking with pain relief and we are on the same page. I don’t need my broker to tell me it’s time to use pain relief.

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