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Beyond the Bale : Feb 07 - Mar 07 Supplement
BLOWFLY SUPPLEMENT BEYOND THE BALE 9 By Fiona Conroy The first commercially available alternative to conventional mulesing should be available as early as 2007, as part of a major release of clips. The new clips are the result of intensive research and farm trials that began in August 2005. AWI directors and South Australian sheep producers Ian McLachlan and Chris Abell developed the original ideal for a clip, along with SA sheep vet Jack Coffey. Mr McLachlan and Dr Abell developed a prototype to establish the efficacy of the idea and then donated the intellectual property to AWI in 2005. Since then research has concentrated on identifying optimal designs for the clips and suitable clip material, designing applicators and application methods and assessing the effects of the clips on animal performance and welfare. The plastic clips are attached to skin on each side of the breech and tail, similar areas to that removed by conventional mulesing. The clips shut off blood flow to the clipped skin, which effectively dies within 24 hours. After a period of time the clips and the skin fall off, or the clips can be removed. Trial results show the clips also have the potential to increase the bare area on the breech (width across the vulva) and create a channel below the vulva towards the udder, giving a result comparable to conventional mulesing but with no open wounds. "The beauty of the clips is what you see is what you get" -- JULES DORRIAN Jules Dorrian, AWI's project manager for blowfly control, says the clips allow the operator to see what the end result will look like as they are applied. "The beauty of the clips is what you see is what you get," Ms Dorrian says. "You can look at the area you've applied the clips to and change it if you want before letting the lamb go. "The end result depends on the individual animal, its size, position of the clips, the level of wrinkle, type of wrinkle and the amount of skin able to be put in the clip." Although lambs in the trials have shown some initial discomfort when the clips are applied, they are back grazing or mothered-up in less than 30 minutes. Regular weighing in one large trial showed clipped lambs were, on average, two kilograms heavier than their mulesed counterparts six weeks after both groups were treated. This trend has been seen in subsequent trials with varying increases in the weight of clip-treated lambs. During 2006, 86 commercial woolgrowers across Australia road-tested the clips by treating a portion of their lamb drop. These farmers are giving valuable feedback on how the clips work, how the treated sheep perform and on management issues associated with the clip treatment. Since the trials began in 2005, a number of clip designs have been tested for both the breech area and the tail. The original need for an individual design for each of these areas was due to the difference of wrinkle orientation, skin thickness and required effect. AWI is now taking all the information from the two designs and incorporating them into one clip. "We're still trialling different designs but we are aiming to come up with one design that can be used on both the breech and the tail." Researchers have also been working with farmers and contractors to look at how the clips can be combined with procedures such as tail CLIPS AHOY! RELEASE APPROACHES AWI is well on the way to the commercial production of plastic clips as an alternative to conventional mulesing, with 2007 the target for a controlled release docking using a heated gas knife. While the original clips were hand-made from wood, more recent ones have been manufactured from plastic, so mass production can keep costs down. "We are also exploring the issue of making the clips from a biodegradable material, so the clips that fall off in the paddocks will break down," Ms Dorrian says. "This is harder to achieve, as we need microbe activity for the clips to break down and in dry conditions this is hard to expect. "Another alternative to emerge from the farmer trials has been the option of taking the clips off treated lambs after a period of time and re- using them, but this needs to be easy, cost-effective and the clips need to maintain their integrity so they can be used again effectively." AWI has worked with a manufacturer, engineers, farmers and contractors throughout the project as the product has developed. Unlike agricultural and veterinary chemicals, there is no registration process associated with getting the final clip design to market and available to woolgrowers. Therefore it is expected there will be a controlled release of the commercial clip in 2007. AWI is working with a commercial partner to develop the licence agreement for the technology, identify marketing opportunities and develop a training package for the managed release. "We're hoping to see the clips being used on thousands of lambs in 2007." ú More information: Jules Dorrian, AWI project manager blowfly control, 03 9347 7161, email@example.com MULESING ALTERNATIVES Development team applying the clips. The result of clipping (left) is similar to that of conventional mulesing (right).
Apr 07 - May 07
Feb 07 - Mar 07