Mulesing accreditation continues

20 Jul, 2005 08:45 PM
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THE mulesing accreditation program will continue, despite the fact the practice is planned to cease by 2010.

Gordon Godson spoke at the WAFarmers Wool Council meeting and provided an overview to board members of the accreditation program.

Mr Godson said a common problem with people practising mulesing was shears used were often not sharp enough.

"We try to push shear sharpening because it's one of the major problems we see," Mr Godson said.

He said a correct mulesing procedure involved three main things: the tail must be the right length to cover the vulva, the area must be evenly mulesed but not overly done and the area beneath the tail should be bare.

Mr Godson said the most common mistake he saw was either not enough or too much skin removed and/or skin taken from the wrong place.

He said a frequently heard farce was that a certain number of cuts should be used for an accurate technique.

There was no specific number of cuts people should do when carrying out mulesing, Mr Godson said.

"The main thing is that it's done correctly and you end up with an even sheep.

"When you're putting a sheep under that kind of stress, you only want to do it once.

"What you do to a sheep is for the rest of its life."

Mr Godson said that in NSW the majority of sheep were mulesed by unaccredited contractors, who often did not care if they hurt sheep.

"An owner should know the difference between a good and bad mules," he said.

"A good muleser has quality equipment, sharp shears and is slow, considerate and consistent."

The accreditation program suggests that three pairs of shears should be active during mulesing, one in hand, one in soaking disinfectant and another in strong disinfectant.

The shears should be rotated after every 20 sheep or so.

Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) funds the mulesing accreditation program.

Although Mr Godson thought the funding had ended, AWI insists it will go ahead, but with a push for a broader scope.

The program will act as a "band-aid" to ensure that until a suitable alternative is found, mulesing will be done properly.

Agriculture Department veterinarian Di Evans confirmed the accreditation program would continue.

"Despite the impending changes, there are several benefits of becoming accredited for both contact mulesing operators and owner-operators," Ms Evans said.

"These benefits are irrespective of whether accreditation becomes a legal requirement or not.

"Training also covers other areas of lamb marking including tailing, castration, stock identification and vaccination."

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