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Beyond the Bale : September 2016
Woolgrowers, researchers, consultants, commercial providers, vets and welfare experts discussed the latest developments and trial results from AWI’s flystrike prevention program at the National Wool R&D Technical Update on Breech Flystrike Prevention held in July in Sydney. Protecting the national flock from flystrike remains the top research priority at AWI. Since 2005, more than $34 million has been invested by AWI on measures to combat flystrike as part of a greater long-term investment of more than $59 million in animal health and welfare measures. Projects have now been funded across a suite of genetic, mechanical, chemical and novel approaches to flystrike prevention. Research has shown that breech strike is heritable, and that breech wrinkle, dag, urine stain and breech wool cover are the key risk factors for flystrike (see page 36). Industry has had access to commercially available breeding values for wrinkle, dags and cover since 2009. Breeding Values were released and are managed by Sheep Genetics. The role of skin bacteria and odour continues to be investigated as other possible risk factors for flystrike, with research partners CSIRO, Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia (DAFWA) and the University of Western Australia. Various on-farm trials using liquid nitrogen (see page 35) have been shown to reduce breech wrinkle, dags and breech wool cover. The liquid nitrogen process was developed by Steinfort Agvet Pty Ltd with support from AWI. Further work is being conducted to refine application, reduce variability of results between sheep, and determine the commercialisation of the process. The APVMA has formally approved the registration of the intradermal SkinTraction®, but it has done so with tight label restrictions. The restrictions include sheep must have less than 8mm wool, have no shearing cuts, be of greater than 12 months of age and 30kg bodyweight, in condition score greater than 2.5. AWI has decided not to fund work linking biological harvesting with Skin Traction®, but continues to negotiate a way forward with Cobbett Technologies, the owners of the SkinTraction® patents. The genome of the blowfly has now been mapped which offers the opportunity for a greater understanding of what attracts the gravid Lucilia cuprina female to sheep. Knowing the genes that allow the larvae to feed on the skin and underlying tissues, or the gravid female fly to find susceptible sheep on which to lay their eggs could also produce more targeted control measures in the longer term. These could potentially include vaccines to prevent the larvae feeding on the skin and underlying tissue or new control chemicals that kill the larvae or repel the female fly. Trials to assess new pain relief products (see page 37), and the value in having both pre- and post-operative drug combinations are being conducted by the CSIRO. There has been large scale adoption of post-operative pain relief over the past five years. A Meloxicam product Buccalgesic® was registered in August 2016 for castration and tail docking, and it is hoped that formal registration for mulesing will occur in coming months. Another Meloxicam product Metacam® 20 (injectable) was registered in April 2016 for the alleviation of pain and inflammation. The farmer-focused website FlyBoss (www.flyboss.com.au), run by the University of New England and funded by AWI and MLA, contains a large amount of information for woolgrowers on best practice flystrike control. The FlyBoss program also conducts training for chemical retailers and workshops for agricultural consultants and advisors. Chemical prevention of flystrike is a very important option (along with crutching, breech traits, tight lambing and, time of shearing) for woolgrowers, however existing chemicals need to be used wisely to delay onset of resistance. There continues to be ongoing consultation with all stakeholders on the AWI’s Breech Strike Prevention program. The Australian Veterinary Association and Genetic Review panel regularly assess the progress of the program, and their reports are on the AWI website. AWI also holds six-monthly meetings with the main animal welfare lobby groups in Australia. AWI undertakes consultation with state welfare and federal agencies, and supply chain customers in the processing, manufacturing and retail sectors. Breeder feedback on the breech strike RD&E strategy is also used to update the RD&E program each year. AWI has held a National Wool R&D Technical Update on Breech Flystrike Prevention event every two years since 2008. Woolgrowers are in the best position to determine the best-practice animal health and welfare program for their sheep. PROTECTING THE NATIONAL FLOCK AGAINST FLYSTRIKE R&D PROGRESS CONTINUES At this year’s National Wool R&D Technical Update on Breech Flystrike Prevention, significant and incremental progress was reported from a wide spectrum of research projects and trials conducted on farms and in laboratories. 34 ON FARM
In the Shops - September 2016