Wool exporters seek finalised sheep freeze branding report

Terry Sim, April 12, 2021

ACWEP president Josh Lamb: seeking access to sheep freeze branding research report conference in China.

AUSTRALIA’S wool exporters and brokers believes industry stakeholders must be given the opportunity to adjust their submissions to a National Wool Declaration review after viewing a finalised sheep freeze branding research report.

The Australian Wool Exchange closed off submission to the NWD review on 6 April, despite a call from the national exporter body, supported by brokers, to extend submissions until the research results were available.

Executive director of the Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors, Peter Morgan, told Sheep Central all those who have made submissions to the review should be given an opportunity to amend their submissions if they want to.

“They should have that option.”

Mr Morgan said he had been told by sheep freeze branding developer John Steinfort that the veterinarian was seeking permission from the University of Melbourne to make the final research report available.

National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia president Rowan Woods also believed industry stakeholders should be given access to the finalised research results and allowed to amend their submissions to the review if necessary.

ACWEP president, Josh Lamb, said ACWEP and the Private Treaty Wool Merchants of Australia have become aware via Sheep Central that the University of Melbourne final report from the research on the use of liquid nitrogen has been released.

“Unfortunately, we are not in a position to comment on the outcomes as we have not yet seen the Report, but have sought copies from AWEX; and from Dr Steinfort, who is waiting on approval from the University of Melbourne.

“We do not know whether the outcomes of the final report will affect the submissions made to the NWD Review,” he said.

“The only way to determine this is by releasing the final report to all those who made submissions and re-opening the previous closing date for any amended submissions.”

It remains unclear who can release the research results, which have been provided to Dr Steinfort and to AWEX via Dr Steinfort’s NWD review submission on 6 April.

Dr Steinfort told Sheep Central today that he had written two emails last week to the University of Melbourne principal scientists doing the research project, but hadn’t received a reply.

“I spoke to Ellen Jongman late Friday and she told me we had a right to release publicly if we wished.

“This was the first I knew that we could,” he said.

“However, she did discuss that by releasing publicly, then this would most likely stop the application process to publish a paper and for the paper to be published in scientific journal.”

Dr Steinfort late last year gave permission for Dr Jongman to present preliminary results from the research at a forum in December last year and these were subsequently published on the National Primary Industries Animal Welfare RD&E Strategy website. Dr Jongman concluded that freeze branding with meloxicam pain relief appeared to be more painful than tail docking and castration alone, and similar to mulesing with meloxicam, on the day of application.

AWEX chief executive officer Mark Grave has rejected calls to extend the review’s submission deadline past 6 April. Peak grower body WoolProducers Australia has also called the review “premature”.

Mr Grave today did not respond to a question on whether industry stakeholders will be given an opportunity to change their submissions to the NWD review if the finalised research results become publicly available in coming weeks.


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  1. Donald Cameron, April 14, 2021

    1. Did AWI fund the original research into the process of using liquid nitrogen to mulese sheep?

    2. If AWI did fund the liquid N mulesing process, how did Steinfort gain access to the details?

    3. Who gave Steinfort permission to use the AWI-funded process commercially?

    4. Why was Steinfort given permission to use liquid N mulesing before the pain research was completed?

    5. Why was Steinfort allowed to use liquid N mulesing?

    6. Is the University of Melbourne researching the pain of liquid N mulesing?

    7. Who appointed AWEX to be judge, jury and executioner on liquid N mulesing?

    8. Is the old guard still pulling the strings behind the scenes?

    9. Do we have to wait another decade before all this AWI-funded nonsense disappears?

    • Peter Small, April 15, 2021

      Donald Cameron, you could have rounded up your questions to ten, by asking: “Where is the leadership in our industry?” Absent without leave or asleep at the wheel.

  2. Jim Gordon, April 13, 2021

    What is it about decision makers? Here’s Scomo on 4 Corners wanting to force Australians to use gas. Back hydrogen and renewables. Keep the artesian basin safe. Josh Lamb, Peter Morgan and Rowan Woods — three clear thinkers — trying to work out what’s going on. This is so simple; separate breech-modified wools from non breech-modified wools on the NWD and then the welfare groups, retailers and brands, (the trade), exporters and growers will be happy.

  3. Peter Small, April 12, 2021

    This whole sorry saga raises more questions than it answers and on face value doesn’t shine a very complimentary light on any of the participating parties. At the heart of all this is lies the credibility of The University of Melbourne as a research institution.
    In an effort to get to some understanding of where we are at may I pose the following questions:
    1. Is it correct that the original research into liquid nitrogen or so-called “freeze branding” to remove wrinkle from the breech of sheep without the need to use surgical shears was funded by AWI?
    2. If it was funded by AWI how did it come about that a Dr Steinfort was using the process commercially before the research was completed?
    3. If the objective of the research was to modify the breech of sheep without pain or blood why was the commercial adoption allowed to proceed without pain research; an integral part one would have thought, of the original research project, not being undertaken, never mind completed?
    4. The belated pain research, referred to in the article, is apparently being conducted by The University of Melbourne. Can The University of Melbourne confirm if this is correct?
    5. Can the university detail what faculty is responsible for the research project, who was responsible for the scientific design and rigor of the project and what was the process for peer review and publication?
    6. How was the project funded and in the view of the university, did the funding body provide adequate funds for the project to be appropriately and scientifically conducted?
    There are many other questions that need to be addressed, such as on what authority does AWEX have to be the arbiter on this whole issue? I would have thought that the only authority AWEX had would come from the unanimous consent of the participating bodies, particularly the brokers and exporters. Otherwise they AWEX has no authority, I would have thought.
    The exporters and the brokers have the responsibility of dealing with AWEX, but as a wool grower I am livid with the waste of growers hard-earnt income on questionable research. Unless the university is forthcoming with answers to these questions, I intend taking the matter up with the university at the highest level.

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