AWI trial results questioned by growers

28 Aug, 2008 11:05 AM

THE integrity of the Australian wool industry's key research and marketing body has come under question after suggestions lambs' survival rate is 4pc less using mulesing, compared to breech clips.

Key trials conducted by Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) into the performance of the clips against mulesing revealed that compared with mulesed lambs, four in 100 more survived when they were clipped.

WA woolgrowers are outraged by the findings, saying they are incorrect, bringing into question the statistics and the accuracy of AWI's trials.

Beverley woolgrowers Max and Luke Edwards said if they were to lose 4pc of lambs at mulesing, or even in a year, they would be out of business.

"I am deeply offended and outraged at a recently released article by AWI that Australian wool growers have a 4pc or more mortality rate from mulesing lambs," Max Edwards said.

"This is absolute rubbish and is just another example of why a lot of WA woolgrowers have very little respect for AWI.

"The kind of information degrades woolgrowers and makes me wonder where they are getting their results from."

As producers of more than 23,000 sheep, the Edwards said they were angered and disheartened over AWI's treatment of woolgrowers in recent years.

"Every producer pays about 50 cents per head to AWI through the compulsory levy and receives nothing in return other than instructions to stop mulesing," Mr Edwards said.

"In our climatic location we cannot run sheep in the numbers we do without mulesing, or using a viable alternative, which isn't yet available.

"AWI still say there will be an alternative by 2010, but I also remember a horrifically expensive shearing machine that should have been available years ago from AWI."

AWI defended itself, saying that while not all farmers may experience the death rates, they were the results of this trial.

"The facts are in these particular trials, four in 100 more lambs survived when clipped," an AWI spokesperson said.

The results will be submitted to the Australian Veterinary Journal for publication and peer review.

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Martin Oppenheimer
28/08/2008 3:52:15 PM

AWI's credibility with woolgrowers is very poor, after years of spin. Even the new AWI logo is spin. If we are to get a real return for our levy, then we need leaders that we can believe.
Sir George
29/08/2008 10:30:33 AM

Yet another AWGA inspired smear campaign against AWI. Jenna, you really should look a little deeper into why people say these things. What the wool industry needs is less growers pretending they know how to run marketing companies and more professional directors. God help AWI if the Col Dorber backers get in again!
29/08/2008 6:12:29 PM

I think what has happened here is a fairly common misreading of statistics. I would think that the "4% more" means "4% more than die from clips". So if 100 die from clips, 104 die from mulesing. What is NOT said is what percentage of the TOTAL flock die from mulesing to start with... ie, that original number, out of which 100 died - how many was that? It doesn't mean 4% of the total number of lambs died from mulesing, which I think is what the Edwards' believed - but (without having seen the study) is probably not true. The quote from AWI - that 4 in 100 more lambs survived... can still be correct... While it is correct to say this, and would make the grade for a peer reviewed journal, I think it IS misleading though (and a very common trick) because people assume they are looking at a much bigger number than they really are. When that 4 lambs is four more surviving lambs out of XXXXX (pick a five digit number!) it's not nearly as significant as 4/100 lambs. Hope I've explained this clearly enough - ?


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