Support MLA in mules with pain relief push – AWGA

AWGA president Robert McBride, December 4, 2017

MEAT and Livestock managing director Richard Norton deserves congratulations for his recent public declaration supporting sheep breech surgery with analgesia.

He correctly advises us to regard our customers with great care and respect, and listen and react positively to clear market signals. Consumers have a keen desire to know as much as they can about what they eat, in this new age of vastly powerful social media, that can either make or break a strong retail brand literally overnight.

He correctly advises us all to be proud of what we do, and defend our excellent welfare practices honestly and openly face the danger of bans or draconian legislation being introduced that would deprive us of our farming rights, as recently witnessed in the European Union. In reality, who reasonably could argue with any sheep or cattle surgery accompanied with analgesia, as seen in the human world literally millions of times every day?

And this is the essence of Richard’s logic. Don’t hide and hope these issues will go away; they won’t. Be proud and be public and scientifically defend what you are doing. We have a brilliant story to tell, so let’s tell it and stand together.

And this sadly contrasts against what Australian Wool Innovation has been not doing for the past five years; an organisation that has successfully buried their heads deeply in the restaurants and coffee shops festooned around their swank offices at The Rocks in Sydney. And owing to their future careers, none of them are comfortable talking about these unpleasant surgeries.

It doesn’t matter that the European market for wool is declining and our customers there have been begging for help to face their customers complaints and enquiries for years, their response is to try and distract us with other matters of levy folly such as trying to compete with the existing wool market auction system via the ill-fated Wool Exchange Portal, which based on AWI’s past commercial performance, is destined to fail and be closeted with the plethora of white elephants produced by your long-suffering and poorly-invested levy.

Once more, we commend and thank Richard Norton for his freshness and commercial market sense. We sincerely hope he prevails.

Robert McBride, Chair, AWGA, Tolarno Station.


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  1. Ken Calder, December 27, 2017

    Mulesing is short term pain, reduced greatly by pain relief, for a long term gain. Not just in pain from flystrike, but also from workload of carers and shearers. How many people have seen a sheep severely struck by the Australian blowfly and the pain they suffer if not treated promptly? Mulesing is the proactive, chemical-free way to reduce the incidence of flystrike, but along with this operation the breeding for wool type that is unattractive to flies is also important. Without mulesing, dags collect on the wrinkles around the tail of a sheep which by their sheer weight makes the wrinkle hang larger, thus collects more dags. Trying to remove these dags from the larger wrinkle then causes more pain for the sheep, and for the person doing the crutching.
    Ask any shearer which sheep they would prefer to shear: mulesed or unmulesed? The answer will always be unmulesed and they will not leave long wool on any wrinkles around the tail ready to collect dags.
    The only way to reduce long wool around the tail of a sheep is to breed wool off a sheep. Ask the question why fat lamb producers prefer crossbred ewes that have been mulesed. Also have a look at the real agenda of PETA and animal liberationists to see why there is a campaign to stop any activity that uses animals in production of food or fibre or in transport or as pets. I do hope these people do not use soap, as this is a cruel way for any bacteria to die. Only difference is you cannot see them suffering.

  2. Unmulesed since 2010. No chemicals, no extra crutching. Seeing more breech strike in our very old mulesed ewes (bought 5+ years ago) than our unmulesed ewes. Full names required in future for reader comments please Andrew, as per Sheep Central’s long-standing comments policy: Editor.

  3. Edward Wymer, December 5, 2017

    What a storm in a tea cup. No-one ever goes into a butcher shop asking about mulesing, same in clothing stores. It is the furthest thing from a consumer’s mind.

  4. Glenn Phillip Nix, December 5, 2017

    In 2016 my last fly-struck mulesed sheep was on November 1 at shearing, as I ran out of chemicals for protection. The last unmulesed lambs began getting struck in March and this went on till June 25 or 26. The amount of work in looking after the unmulesed sheep in my climate is out of all proportion to their number. I have used Tri-Solfen from the start; it makes me money, as does mulesing.

  5. susan finnigan, December 4, 2017

    Thank you, Richard Norton – well said, Robert McBride.

  6. John Symons, December 4, 2017

    Great article. The issue isn’t going to go away. Breech surgery is the tip of the iceberg. PETA will use every argument possible to shut down the entire industry. They want us all to be vegans and not ever own domestic pets. Let’s not ignore science which tells us that this procedure has a massive reduction in the prevalence of breech strike. I estimate our untreated sheep would make up less than 1 percent of our total flock and would account for 90pc of breech strike.

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