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Beyond the Bale : March 2012
32 32 SELLING MORE WOOL September 2010 BEYOND THE BALE March 2012 BEYOND THE BALE 32 ON-FARM Breech flystrike prevention continues to be AWI’s highest research, development and extension (RD&E) priority, with a significant percentage of AWI’s on-farm R&D budget currently invested in this area. Below is a summary of the current RD&E program. BREEDING AWI is funding trials conducted by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA (DAFWA) at Mt Barker (WA) and CSIRO at Armidale (NSW) into the indicator traits for breech flystrike resistance in winter rainfall environments and summer rainfall environments respectively. Dags are the highest risk factor at both sites. However, as Armidale NSW is in low dag country the dag risk is not often expressed. Most sheep get struck at Armidale due to moderate to high breech wrinkle. At Mt Barker WA, which is high dag country and where there are low breech wrinkle type sheep, dags dominate as the main reasons for flystrike. Results from Victoria (MacKinnon Project, University of Melbourne) indicate that high wrinkle sheep in high dag country are more likely to get struck due to dags rather than wrinkle. While it can take many years to reduce breech wrinkle sufficiently (all wrinkle scores 2 and below), it is much harder to reduce dags in high dag country. Good worm control is important but scouring due to other reasons such as increasing worm resistance, high worm seasons, onset of fresh new and improved pasture, or a fresh larvae challenge are very difficult to manage. Reducing dags is the key to reducing the risk of breech strike in many sheep areas. Results from Mt Barker and Armidale also show that there is a cumulative effect of each of the four key risk factors. As each score (see Visual Sheep Scores booklet) increases from 1 to score 5 for these four key traits, the risk of flystrike compounds. The four key traits, dags, breech wrinkle, and wool cover and colour explain a significant amount of the risk to flystrike, equivalent to mulesing in some areas. However there are some remaining factors that are “as yet unknown”. There have been animals at Mt Barker WA and Armidale NSW that are relatively high wrinkle and high dag that do not get struck and animals that are low wrinkle and low dag that do get struck. Ongoing work is looking at several factors, principally odours and bacteria that attract the female fly. A project investigating the DNA of highly susceptible and highly resistant animals has commenced. Breeding Values for breech wrinkle (EBWR), dags (LDAG) and breech cover (EBCOV) can be found at: www.sheepgenetics.org.au/MERINOSELECT. CLIPS Clips continue to be used successfully by a few growers. For some growers they provide sufficient wrinkle and dag reduction to get the risk of strike to a manageable level without having to rely on other means such as chemical protection. For growers with higher risk country and sheep, clips have not afforded sufficient protection without adoption of a range of other prevention tools. INTRADERMALS SkintractionTM continues in an R&D phase. There have been some trial sites where there have been unexplained results; the factors causing these are been assessed in the latest work. When these factors have been understood the product will move into a commercialisation phase across all states via trained contractors. DICYCLANIL Several trials have shown how successful dicyclanil is even when used on high wrinkle, high dag sheep in high dag country. A range of chemicals provide adequate protection and care over withholding periods is required. A claim of possible resistance to dicyclanil is being investigated. PAIN RELIEF The adoption of pain relief has been very rapid. Over 60 per cent of mulesed lambs are being treated with pain relief post- operatively and R&D continues by a range of organisations into providing additional pre-operative pain relief. OTHER INITIATIVES A large amount of information exists on the optimal tail length for unmulesed animals dating back to the 1920s. A literature review of these trials is being conducted and will be released in the near future. The Sheep CRC and AWI extension network continue to run FlyBoss training workshops and there is increasing use of the FlyBoss website www.flyboss.org.au by growers. The AWI Managing Breech Flystrike manual (see box right) is available at www. wool.com/flystrike or request a free hard copy version from the AWI Helpline on 1800 070 099. Every three months, two representatives of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), Dr Bruce Allworth and Dr David Hucker, conduct an audit on AWI’s Breech Flystrike Prevention Program. Once a year, two specialist breeding reviewers, Dr Forbes Brien and Dr Peter James, review the breeding component of the Breech Flystrike Prevention Program with the AVA auditors. Every six months, AWI holds a meeting with researchers and four key animal welfare groups interested in the breech flystrike issue. AWI continues to investigate any new leads to assist reduce the risk of flystrike but only formally announces these projects if they pass a proof of concept stage. FACTORS TO CONSIDER In the process of deciding whether to cease mulesing many factors need to be taken into account. Good planning and consultation with other growers are the key criteria to re-balance the tools available to control breech flystrike. Other factors are: l Local prevalence of dags from worms, FAST FACTS l AWI has a proactive, intensive and committed flystrike prevention R&D and extension (RD&E) program. l Dags and breech wrinkle are the two the main indicator traits for breech flystrike, while wool colour and breech wool cover are secondary traits. l The RD&E effort continues. Breech f lystrike RD&E update