Spotlight on alternatives

17 Nov, 2004 10:00 PM

RESEARCHERS have been working on various alternatives to mulesing for almost five years.

But protests by animal rights groups have prompted Australian Wool Innovation to fast-track their research to allow some of the new methods of controlling fly strike to be ready within the next three years.

Protein injections involve the injection of a naturally occurring protein just under the skin.

The protein disrupts the normal structure of the skin and after a few days the wool around the breech falls off.

As the area heels, the skin tightens and shrinks, removing the skin fold around the breech.

Treatment during research has been so effective that 3cm-4cm of skin in the breech that has been treated with the new protein shrinks to a line no more than 1mm-2mm wide.

The animal will be less susceptible to soiling around the breech area and better protected against fly strike.

Trials of the protein injection have proven to work in experimental situations. Researchers are working to devise a quick, easy and cost effective application method.

The new treatment was still three years away, and $1.5 million dollars was still needed to finalise the research.

³We still need to source the active ingredient from Germany and the US and we don't know what the commercial arrangements will be, that will still take some time," AWI spokesman cott Williams said.

"And we still need to figure out the best application methods. We are testing five different ones at the moment."

Dr Williams said he was not able to accurately predict the cost of the protein injections, but said a cheap effective alternative was essential.

Researchers at the Centre for Environmental Stress and Adaptation Research were mapping the blowfly genome to find a chink in its defence system.

Scientists admit they know very little about the blowfly and its ability to break down insecticides and the fly's ability to build resistance to pesticides. But hope that by understanding the blowfly they will be able to develop ways to control it.


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Australia's live animal trade is nothing but a blood stained industry that suits those who