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Numnuts research is extended onto Australian sheep farms

Sheep Central, August 13, 2021

A Numnuts tool being used during lamb marking.

SHEEP producers are being sought for an extended commercial on-farm trial of the Numnuts lamb marking system across five states.

Participating producers will be paid $1000 and be expected to purchase a Numnuts tool and NumOcaine anaesthetic, unless otherwise available.

CSIRO senior technical officer Jim Lea said about 40 producers have already signed up, but another 20 are being sought. The producers will be asked to compare the behaviour of lambs after marking, either with or without Numnuts treatment.

“It’s not per se a research trial, but it is looking at producer impressions of the product,” Mr Lea said.

Principal research scientist at CSIRO’s McMaster Laboratory in Armidale, New South Wales, Dr Ali Small, said the on-farm results will be compared with the findings of controlled Numnut trials.

“What it is really all about is does the producer see the same kinds of benefits that we see in the controlled trials.

“The statistical comparison will be between with the ring only with the Numnuts that the farmers do and then will describe it and discuss it in the context of what we’ve actually seen in the controlled trials.”

The trial is already underway in Western Australia and Victoria, and is yet to start in New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania. About 10 farmers have completed the trial. It involves producers marking 30 lambs with rings only using Numnuts and 30 lambs without the treatment.

“The farmers will sit and score behaviours with a scoring protocol for up two hours after marking,” Dr Small said.

The CSIRO-run project is being sponsored by Meat & Livestock Australia and Australian Wool Innovation, which have tested and validated a targeted pain relief system for farmers to use when tail docking and castrating their lambs using the ring method.

In trials conducted with the University of Melbourne, Numnuts reduced the number of lambs displaying pain behaviours immediately after marking by up to 68 percent.

Details about the trial are here and for more information click here.

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