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Beyond the Bale : May 2010
25 May 2010 BEYOND THE BALE FAST FACTS l AWI has in place a proactive, intensive and committed flystrike prevention R&D program. l The ultimate, longer-term aim is to remove the need for mulesing; the more immediate or short-term aim is to provide methods to replace the practice of traditional mulesing with welfare-improved practices. l AWI supports all woolgrowers in their choice of best practice animal health and hygiene control in flystrike control. Australian farmers are committed to and maintain the highest standards of animal welfare. Flystrike prevention is a complex issue. It has generated much concern and debate as Australian farmers have attempted to balance the competing demands of protecting their sheep from flystrike against calls to phase out the procedure of mulesing -- a procedure which has been, and in many cases remains, an essential tool to protect sheep from this virulent parasite. There has been an enormous R&D and breeding effort and considerable progress. Australia is the world's single largest producer of non-mulesed and ceased- mulesed fine wool (less than 21 micron). Scientific developments have not proceeded at a pace to support a full phase-out of the procedure by the expected date. To progress a phase-out faster than scientific developments allows, would risk the severe suffering or death of millions of animals every year. There have been a number of key developments that allow the industry to move forward with a coordinated roadmap. 1 We now have an open market system -- the key mechanism to resolve debate over this issue and move forward constructively • The National Wool Declaration (NWD) allows farmers to declare their practices. • It provides free choice in the marketplace. • It allows supply and demand to find a balance. Growers expect a price premium to offset the additional costs of production. WOOL PRODUCTION • A ustralia has commercial volumes of welfare-friendly wool -- non-mulesed, ceased mulesed and pain relief. 2Pursuing natural resistance to breech flystrike through selection and breeding • Natural breech-strike resistance is the ultimate goal for the industry but still some considerable time away for many growers. • New R&D developments (for example, scoring cards and ASBVs) allow farmers to focus attention on controlling breech flystrike while still improving productivity. • Different breeding strategies suit different sheep in different environments: one size does not fit all. • This is a long-term goal; incremental change builds over time. 3 Protecting sheep welfare in the interim • Vulnerable sheep will continue to require protection from flystrike while longer term initiatives progress. • Major welfare improvements have been achieved through accreditation, training, effective pain relief and non-surgical alternatives. • Different strategies will suit different farmers, sheep types and environments; all should be supported to provide the range of options and availability to farmers across Australia's diverse landscapes. 4 Continuing industry's R&D focus to develop alternatives and additional effective analgesic agents for sheep • The industry has achieved major progress and this focus should continue. • Ongoing R&D should focus on: • improved management options for managing without mulesing • genetic research and breeding tools for increased breechstrike resistance • less invasive surgical and non-surgical procedures • progressing the intradermal treatments to commercialisation, and • developing pre-operative/additional analgesia. • Major extension programs will be rolled out progressively nationwide, for example through AWI's extension networks, state departments of primary industries and the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC). 5 Progress reporting • Delivering increasing volumes of welfare- declared wools to the marketplace, reflecting a greater adoption of welfare practices, will be a key objective and measure of progress. • S trengthen and support the NWD to meet grower and retailer needs. • Improve market signal information to growers. • Greater visibility of available volumes and assistance for retailers with information and sourcing requirements through AWI's global sales network. • Quarterly independent audit of R&D progress through the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). 6 Avoiding welfare-based conflict • Working constructively with welfare stakeholders: AWI holds regular welfare and veterinary group stakeholder days to provide progress reports, input into, and support for R&D and extension program development. 7Communication • A WI, through its global sales network, continues its work with international retailers, manufactures and processors, providing them with information on flystrike prevention and assistance with sourcing Australian wool. • A WI is committed to a continual process of consultation with all parties, communicating to the supply chain to ensure consistent messages are being advocated. • AWI is developing a coordinated communication strategy to promote the efforts of the industry, document progress and protect and promote the reputation of Australian farmers and Australian wool. More information: www.wool.com/flystrike AWI roadmap for flystrike prevention