A PROPOSAL to describe sheep freeze branding as an ‘alternative method’ or AM on the National Wool Declaration does not have the support of the company promoting the breech process.
AgVet Innovations general manager Stuart Blair told Sheep Central that AWEX’s recent proposals on the issue were not encouraging investment in new alternatives to mulesing.
“We don’t agree with the AM category and we will be making a submission accordingly.
“It is not the correct outcome for emerging technology that is providing a solution to an issue that was to have been phased out 10 years ago,” he said.
Freeze branding developer John Steinfort said the AM category would exclude the process from the NM or non-mulesed category.
“We have always viewed sheep freeze branding as a transitional pathway for both mulesed and non mulesed categories of sheep.
“To then exclude sheep freeze branding from this non mulesed category, destroys this transitional pathway with resultant industry stalemate and standstill,” he said.
“The opportunity is for wool producers to utilise the sheep freeze branding process as a support tool for wool growers in the breech health management of their flocks.
“A move away from NM category destroys the transitional pathway and offers no incentive for future innovations,” he said.
“I think all stakeholders agree that sheep freeze branding is a non-mulesing process by the Australian definition (of mulesing with shears), so it needs to stay there, but define it as a process.
“That allows for all other NM processes, including any future processes that are non-cutting, ie. non-surgical, to be included,” he said.
“We would like to see the non-mulesed status quo maintained for the sheep freeze brand process and then further validated once the university behavioural and physiological studies are completed.”
Mr Blair was concerned that adoption of an AM category on the NWD could drive growers back to surgical mulesing.
He said AgVet Innovations is focussed on achieving an outcome that improves animal welfare.
“We want a decision (from AWEX) that supports that.”
The Australian Wool Exchange last week circulated an update proposing that wool from sheep treated with an alternative breech modification method to mulesing be categorised on the NWD as AM – alternative method.
The latest attempt at describing wool from sheep treated with mulesing alternatives on the NWD has been circulated to the 161 submitters to the second round of consultation, with comments required by February 28.
AWEX had previously suggested that the current NM category be broken up into:
NM1: No sheep in this mob has been mulesed, and an alternative method to mulesing has not been used.
NM2: No sheep in this mob has been mulesed, and an alternative method to mulesing, such as freeze branding, clips or intradermal injections (Skintraction), has been used.
In the current NWD version, wool from sheep treated with freeze branding – a liquid nitrogen application method – is regarded by AWEX as coming from a non-mulesed source. Some sectors of the wool industry support this because the Australian definition of mulesing refers to the use of shears, which are not used in sheep freeze branding. However, AWEX has said other sectors of the market perceive and value non-mulesed or NM as wool coming from sheep that have not been mulesed or had any alternative method (to mulesing) applied.
Feedback/submissions on the latest NWD draft must be received by the close of business on Friday 28 February 2020. Submissions must be in writing and include the name and address of the author/organisation. Emails are preferred and encouraged to ensure submissions are received by the closing date.
Feedback and enquiries can be sent to Mark Grave, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Wool Exchange Limited, (02) 9428 6110, email [email protected], address PO Box 651, North Ryde, NSW 1670.
Click here to see the latest proposed NWD draft.