AUSTRALIA’S new sheep welfare standards are ill-conceived and potentially very damaging to wool’s image, a major European processor has claimed.
International wool processor and trader Laurence Modiano, heads a group of world wool companies and traders who want mandatory pain-relief for all on-farm sheep surgery in Australia.
They have signed a petition calling on the Australian wool industry to mandate the pain-relief requirement and execute a campaign to tell consumer brands of the efforts Australia’s wool growers are making to improve animal welfare.
“The legal adoption of pain relief will destroy in one fell swoop the consumer brand perception that Australian wool is associated with cruelty,” Mr Modiano said.
The petition signatories also want it known that consumer brands increasingly require full traceability and they claim that all wool not declared on an AWEX National Wool Declaration is at risk of being discounted.
Standards will do nothing to enhance animal welfare – Modiano
The new Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep prepared by Animal Health Australia were recently endorsed by the state and territory agriculture ministers and governments, but it is the responsibility of each state government to determine whether they will be enshrined in law.
The standards stipulate that a person must not mules sheep that are 6–12 months old without using appropriate pain relief, but do not prescribe pain relief for lambs under 6 months of age. Associated guidelines only state that mulesing should be accompanied by pain relief where practical and cost-effective methods are available, and that operators should seek advice on current pain minimisation strategies. There are also no standards clause for the use of pain-relief on sheep cut during shearing.
“We are requesting that pain relief be made a legal requirement for all open-wound surgery on all sheep, regardless of age.
“The current AHA proposals are ill-considered and potentially very damaging to wool’s image,” Mr Modiano said.
“What nonsense to say that lambs should be mulesed between 2 and 12 weeks, and then to stipulate that only sheep over six months require pain relief!”
Mr Modiano said the sheep welfare standards and guidelines would do nothing to enhance or improve animal welfare.
“They simply create more confusion.
“My sense is that they were arrived at by committee, a hotch-potch of compromises that, if adopted, would severely set back the cause of animal welfare in Australia,” he said.
“When the Chinese are saying publicly that they want pain relief to become a legal obligation, you know that something fundamental has to change.
“They do not come out and request these things lightly”.
Pain relief measures story needs to be told
Mr Modiano said 60-70 percent of lambs are already treated with pain relief after mulesing, although they are not all declared on the NWD.
“Many growers are also trying to stop mulesing altogether and Not Mulesed/Ceased Mulesing rates are rising.
“Most would prefer never to mules again and yet cannot afford to put their sheep at risk,” he said.
“This story also needs to be told.”
When asked which body should execute a campaign to outline the efforts Australian woolgrowers are making to improve animal welfare, Mr Modiano said Australian Wool Innovation is the organisation that has the closest relationship to the consumer brands.
“It is also very aware of the resistance to wool in certain markets because of animal welfare issues.”
Mr Modiano claims the large companies on the petition signatory list together represent up to 70pc of the active global wool combing capacity. Signatories include major processors and traders from China, the United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, India, Japan, Australia, Holland and Switzerland.
Pain relief petition signatories
Signed individually between November 2015 and January 2016
Mr Federico Botto – Biella Wool SRL, Italy.
Mr Jo H. Dawson – H. Dawson Wool, UK.
Ms Micaela Fiorina – Carlane Biella, Italy.
Mr Federico Paullier – Chargeurs Wool, France.
Mr Nigel Thompson – Consorzio Biella The Wool Company, Italy.
Messrs Guido and Matteo De Luca – De Luca, Italy.
Mr Marco Gallia – Furhmann 1735 N.V., Holland.
Dr Klaus-Juergen Kraatz – German Wool Industry (Deutsche Wollvereinigung e.V.), Germany.
Mr Carlo Giraudi – Giraudi Lane, Italy.
Mr Mario Ferrarone – Guglielmo Ferrarone, Italy.
Mr Mauro De Lorenzi – GW SRL, Italy.
Mr Mario Ferrarone – Italian Wool Trade Association – Associazione Nazionale Del Commercio Laniero, Italy.
Mr Zhongxian Zhu – Jiangsu Australia Harvest Group Co. Ltd, China.
Mr Renfeng Chang – Jiangyin Guotaihuasheng Industrial Co. Ltd, China.
Mr Zhenfeng Zhang – Jiangyin Zhenxin Wool Textile Co. Ltd, China.
Ms Wilma Rosso – Lalatex Sas, Italy.
Mr Laurence Modiano – G. Modiano Ltd, UK.
Mr Tetsuya Motohiro – Motohiro & Co Ltd, Japan.
Mr Ravinder Tickoo – Ocm Private Ltd, India.
Mr Stefano Palloni – Stefano Palloni, Italy.
Mr Pier Carlo Bena – Pantex S.p.A., Italy.
Mr Sauro Guerri – Progetto Lana SRL, Italy.
Mr Stefano Rolando – Stefano Rolando, Italy.
Mr Giovanni Schneider – G Schneider S.A., Lussemburgo, Switzerland.
Mme Xiaoxiong Yang – SDIC Nanjing/Nanjing Wool Market, China.
Mr Len Tenace – Segard Masurel Australia, Australia.
Mr Paul S. Hughes – Standard Wool (UK) Ltd, UK.
Mr Qingnan Wen – Tianyu Wool Industry (Zhangjiagang Free Trade Zone) CO. LTD, China.
Mr Torben Christensen – Torben Christensen, Italy.
Mr Xiaofeng Chu – Zhangjiagang Golden Sun Wool Spinning Co. Ltd, China.
Mr Yaoyu Qian – Zhangjiagang Jinmeng Textile Dyeing Co. Ltd, China.
Mr Xinzhong Hua – Zhejiang New Chuwa Wool Co. Ltd, China.
Mr Shaowei Yang – Zhejiang Redsun Wool Textile Co. Ltd, China.
Mr Xiaotian Zhou – Zhejiang Xinao Textiles Inc., China.
Pay a premium for wool from pain relief treated sheep and everyone will then jump on board. Just like the mulesing issue; farmers know that the ultimate benefit is to the sheep after the lamb is mulesed while young and pain relief treatment provides a faster recovery and thus a more productive animal.
The carrot always works better than the stick, so if you want Australian wool in future, then start to pay a decent price. Farmers still farming sheep for wool are getting older on average and thinner on the ground, so wool stocks will keep diminishing. It’s interesting that lamb producers want first cross ewes that have been mulesed, so what does that tell you?
Any wool growers who don’t fill in an AWEX National Wool Declaration form run a risk of a discount on their wool, that is obvious. Those who do fill in an NWD, will not gain a cent. But that is the way it goes, whatever your circumstances. woolman.biz