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Beyond the Bale : September 2014
ON FARM 43 AWI has been working on several potential breech flystrike alternatives in recent years. The most prominent is the SkinTraction® intradermal, owned by Cobbett Technologies Pty Ltd, of which AWI has been funding and reporting trials since 2008. Cobbett Technologies is holding further negotiations with the APVMA regarding SkinTraction® which is expected to satisfy the APVMA requirements for registration. Another promising alternative is the use of liquid nitrogen to remove breech and tail wrinkle. The early scoping results for liquid nitrogen have shown a proof of concept and further research is under way to refine the equipment and conduct formal trials. The process is being developed by Steinfort Agvet Pty Ltd with support from AWI. The use of laser treatments with Zeta LLC of Colorado USA, to potentially permanently remove wool around the eye, pizzle, breech and tail, has not demonstrated proof of concept. However AWI will continue to review new technology in the area for possible further proof of concept studies. The latest R&D results for these three potential alternatives were presented at last month’s National R&D Technical Update on Breech Flystrike Prevention and are available on the AWI website at www.wool.com/flystrikeRnDupdate SKINTRACTION® INTRADERMAL The intradermal agent SkinTraction® continues to show promise as a low- stress procedure to reduce wrinkle and increase breech bare area in Merino sheep. SkinTraction® is suitable for sheep weighing more than 30kg. SkinTraction® is sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), an anionic surfactant commonly used in toothpaste, shampoos, cosmetics and food. A needleless applicator delivers a measured dose of the SLS intradermal in the skin not through the skin. This results in breech modification without an open wound. The damaged skin forms a hard eschar (scab) after about six days. After about 14 days, the eschar starts to dislodge, and after about seven weeks the eschar is fully dislodged. Breech wrinkle and breech cover reductions continue until after first lambing as the animal grows to maturity, as occurs with other alternatives. After registration, there will be commercial issues to resolve, such as finalising the commercial model including price, training contractors and implementing a QA system. Cobbett Technologies aims for the cost of SkinTraction® to woolgrowers to be similar to the cost of traditional mulesing with pain relief and crutching. LIQUID NITROGEN PROCESS Further development has taken place of a process using liquid nitrogen to reduce tail and breech wrinkles and breech wool cover. The concept is encouraging but requires further development for the process to be fully validated and commercially viable. Liquid nitrogen is used in human medicine for the removal of warts and some skin tumours, and in veterinary medicine such as for the removal of carcinomas in cattle and sarcoids in horses. The cryogenic effect of liquid nitrogen freezes skin cells when applied topically. The cells freeze to temperatures of minus 50°C. Ice crystals form within the cells and, upon thawing, the intra-cellular structures and cells are damaged. Healing takes place over a six to eight week period, and an eschar forms which falls off in time. The liquid nitrogen process as an alternative to mulesing is intended to be a procedure conducted in conjunction with lamb marking. Loose skin is raised using four skin clamps that have liquid nitrogen dispensing rods engineered so as to apply the liquid nitrogen to all four skin areas simultaneously. The liquid nitrogen is applied to positions that mimic surgical mulesing – the areas either side of the breech and either side of the tail. A lineal scar forms where the two skin edges have reformed. Resultant skin reduction occurs decreasing excess skin and associated wrinkles. No open wound is created at any stage in the process. The liquid nitrogen process was developed by Steinfort Agvet with support from AWI. The initial aim is to create a commercial process that has a throughput of 500 lambs at marking with a resultant reduction of average wrinkle scores to wrinkle score 2 or less. The long-term aim is to design a system that can process more than a thousand lambs per day. Initial trials using the liquid nitrogen process to freeze breech and tail skin wrinkles has shown a proof of concept with evidence of both wrinkle reduction and an increase in bare area in the breech and tail, with only minor welfare impacts on the animal. Larger trials will be undertaken to confirm the process’s efficacy and commercial viability. If the process passes these trials, issues still to be resolved would include a new cradle design that has a more natural position with better access to loose skin, training of contractors and leasing of equipment, and pricing. It is anticipated that APVMA registration is not required as nitrogen is a ubiquitous element (“naturally everywhere”) that comprises 78 per cent of our atmosphere – however adequate ventilation during use is imperative, such as outdoors or in shearing sheds. LASER TREATMENT Early scoping trials into the use of laser treatment have not been successful to date, but the potential of this alternative warrants further assessment. The laser equipment used is similar in concept to that used for human hair removal with the application settings adapted to address wool growth patterns unique to Merino sheep. As sheep are in a constant wool growth cycle, in theory, if the process can be made successful, retreatment should not be needed. The idea behind the process is that if wool could be permanently removed from the breech and side of the tail then the risk of breech and tail strike could be comparable to the very low risk immediately post crutching. BREECH FLYSTRIKE PREVENTION AWI has been working on several potential breech flystrike alternatives in recent years, including the SkinTraction® intradermal, a liquid nitrogen process, and laser treatment. Cobbett Technologies are negotiating with the APVMA on label details which are expected to satisfy the APVMA’s requirements for registration. Early results for the liquid nitrogen process have shown a proof of concept, however the laser technique has not yet demonstrated proof of concept. MORE INFORMATION www.wool.com/flystrikeRnDupdate ALTERNATIVES