Stock Handling & Animal Welfare

SkinTraction alternative to sheep mulesing passes muster with APVMA

Terry Sim, June 17, 2015

Sheep Merino wether AuctionsPlusAustralian wool growers could soon have a new registered alternative to surgical mulesing – with the conditional approval last month of the SkinTraction process for use on sheep over one year old.

However, it will be at least months before the keenly-awaited product is commercially available to woolgrowers in the hands of trained contractors.

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority on May 27 registered Cobbett Technologies’ SkinTraction as a one-off treatment for sheep kept for fibre production that are one-year-old or older and with a liveweight of 30kg-plus.

But the APVMA has not registered SkinTraction for use on wet or daggy sheep. Sheep must be first vaccinated for tetanus and the breech area sprayed with antiseptic prior to treatment.

SkinTraction involves the intradermal injection of a 70gm/litre sodium lauryl sulphate solution as a sclerosing or skin-thickening agent to reduce skin wrinkle and create more bare area around a sheep’s breech, helping to protect it from flystrike. SLS is currently used on humans for varicose vein treatment and is a common ingredient in other domestic products.

More work needed before commercialisation

The registration follows more than eight years of research and on-farm trials by Cobbett Technologies with Australian Wool Innovation, and an APVMA approval process spanning more than four years.

However, Sheep Central understands that Cobbett Technologies and its research partner AWI will undertake more development and training work before commercialisation occurs. This would include resolving issues on how, when and where SkinTraction should be used.

A SkinTraction applicator.

A SkinTraction applicator.

The APVMA’s SkinTraction label suggests it only be used on sheep:

– that have been shorn or crutched to have wool less than 8mm long;

– after spraying the breech area with antiseptic, and;

– with the Pulse needle-free injection system.

Detailed conditions on SkinTraction use

Consistent with the findings of AWI-Cobbett Technologies research, the APVMA’s label for SkinTraction also lists several “contraindications”, indicating it should not be used on sheep:

– that weigh less than 30kg;

– with a condition score of less than 2.5;

– that have had water withheld or are drought-affected;

– with cuts to the breech from crutching or shearing;

– with macerated or inflamed skin due to moisture from urine or shearing;

– that have not been vaccinated for tetanus;

– selected for soft rolling skins (SRS);

– during the black fly season.

Australian Wool Innovation productivity and animal welfare project manager Geoff Lindon told Sheep Central in April this year he was very confident of news “in the next couple of weeks hopefully” about SkinTraction registration. He said commercialisation of SkinTraction had been delayed until the APVMA’s decision, but that more development work would be required.

Source: APVMA.


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  1. Rachel, June 18, 2015

    Ridiculous having it for animals 30kg+. Who muleses at this liveweight?

  2. Chick Olsson, June 17, 2015

    Did someone say that this was a ” mulesing alternative”? It certainly sounds alternative.

  3. Bruce Dumbrell, June 17, 2015

    I hope for the sake of commercialisation that it will not effect the sales of Trisolfen – that was the death of the clips. When it was feared it would affect the sales, they dropped the planned end to surgical mulesing.

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