Stock Handling & Animal Welfare

NSW broker Jemalong Wool pushes mulesing pain relief price premium message

Sheep Central, September 20, 2016
 Jemalong Wool tehcnical services manager David Quirk, left, and managing director Rowan Woods.

Jemalong Wool technical services manager David Quirk, left, and managing director Rowan Woods.

LEADING New South Wales wool broker Jemalong Wool is urging clients to use pain-relief when mulesing to access market premiums.

Jemalong Wool’s managing director Rowan Woods said from Australian Wool Exchange data, the company has identified premiums of 20-30c/kg for wool from Merino lambs mulesed with pain relief, and up to 60c/kg for fine micron PR wool.

Mr Woods said consumers are demanding transparency, regardless of the commodity.

“They want assurances around sustainability and traceability, and to know materials are sourced ethically.

“For wool, that means coming from a place where the welfare of lambs is paramount and that’s where pain relief comes in,” he said.

“This traceability and sustainability is particularly important for markets in Western Europe and North America, where the climate dictates you buy garments that are warm and will last.

“Today’s technology allows shoppers to use their smartphone to scan a tag and find out nearly everything about that item, including how it was made and where the wool was grown, so it’s critical that growers are open with their practices – and the National Wool Declaration facilitates this,? Mr Woods said.

“A properly completed NWD is a powerful and necessary tool for the wool exporter in marketing growers‘ wool to downstream clients, and further displays an attitude of transparency and traceability.”

Premiums for PR wool in Jemalong catalogue

Mr Woods said wool producers are primarily concerned with the welfare of their livestock and are now increasingly willing to adopt Tri-Solfen pain relief, knowing that not only is the cost covered, but premiums exist for wool sold carrying the ‘PR’ pain relief symbol in the Jemalong Wool sale catalogue.

“All the while, wool producers know they are performing industry best practice, and supporting the ethical treatment of the animal.”

Jemalong Wool’s technical services manager, David Quirk, said leading exporter New England Wool uses the SustainaWOOL integrity scheme that hinges on full traceability.

“On the lots that suit – those that have used pain relief and where the grower is SustainaWOOL accredited – there can be up to a three percent premium in the marketplace.

“Of course, there are more benefits than just the premium percentage for the wool.

“Grower reports show Tri-Solfen has very tangible benefits for livestock, including increased survival rates in lambs, better mothering up, as well as reduced visible stress to the lamb,” he said.

Jemalong Wool said its branches in Forbes, Cooma and Tamworth, NSW, supported growers who use Tri-Solfen pain relief on mulesed Merino lambs – for the business efficiencies and animal welfare benefits. The broker said despite long-term efforts to breed sheep with less skin folds and therefore less susceptibility to fly strike, presently mulesing remained an industry reality to help prevent the painful, and deadly, condition.

Mr Quirk said a client with 5000 Merino ewes has decided to use pain relief for the first time this season and another who was sceptical rationalised it this way.

“If we could get him a 25c/kg premium, and he grows 4kg of wool on that lamb, there’s a dollar, and if Tri-Solfen costs him a dollar, then it’s cost neutral, and it’s once in the lifetime of the animal.”

He said more demand on PR wool lots was another way of achieving a premium and the PR symbol stays with that animal for life.

“If we could wave a magic wand, we’d like every mulesing Merino producer to use pain relief – that would lead to some critical mass of volume, and demonstrate to those not using pain relief, why they should.

“This would help buyers — and hence producers — with volumetric efficiencies, in giving consumers what they’re demanding.”


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  1. Glenn Phillip Nix, September 22, 2016

    Because Deane, you get seasons like we are getting in the lower south west land division; where even well-mulesed sheep are covered in shit after a false break made a green bridge for the worms and add to that longer wool, long watery grass late in the season and I really don’t think you could ever get plain enough without going to a shedding breed.

  2. Deane Goode, September 22, 2016

    Even better than pain relief for mulesing is to not mules at all. How about putting more emphasis on encouraging producers, particularly Merino breeders, to breed a plainer-bodied sheep and hence aim to stop mulesing?

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