Seventh generation farmer Ashley Manning of Bindoon is proud to be an official non-mulesed sheep wool producer.
A recent on-farm visit from an Australian Wool Board inspector included an examination of his stock and review of practices, certifying him as one the few
producers who have made the full switch.
In recent years, pressure from animal activists and the promise of a better price for non-mulsed wool led by the European fashion industry has brought about a rethink of the traditional methods of protecting Merino sheep from flystrike.
According to Australian Wool Innovation “Strong progress is being made. A proportion of farmers have been able to stop the traditional procedure.
In other cases, farmers are replacing it with welfare improved practices such as welfare-improved surgery with pain relief, or breech strike prevention clips, while longer term breeding programs are underway.”
Yet statistics from the Australian Wool Exchange state that only 6% of wool produced in Australia is from certified non-mulsed producers.
Ashley was forced to adopt the non-mulsed method when he was unable to find anyone locally to perform mulesing, and says that it has caused him no trouble at all. “I crutch twice a year now, that’s the only difference” He says, “plus I have been selectively breeding my flock for reduced breech folds.”
Whilst the target deadline of eliminating mulesing by 2010 has now past, progess has certainly been made, but while wool prices are up to 1100 cents per kilo in the current market, unfortunately there is no sign of financial reward yet for farmers adopting the more humane practises.
Published July issue of Northern Valleys News