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Beyond the Bale : December 2012
Pain management The latest research into pain management during animal husbandry procedures suggests a combination of analgesics is more effective than single drugs in managing acute (immediate) and chronic (longer term) phase pain. This could involve a combination of short- and long-acting drugs within one class, or drugs from two or more classes with different modes of action. Unfortunately there is a limited number of pain relief products for sheep currently registered for use in Australia, and there is no easy way to overcome the considerable hurdles and costs to get new products developed and approved. There are a number of other considerations driving product development, including the potential for analgesic products to improve productivity. However, researchers believe this should be viewed as a bonus, with a reduction in suffering being the main goal of pain relief products. Since the first release of accessible pain relief products in 2006, grower adoption at mulesing has been rapid, with an estimated 70 per cent of mulesed sheep now being treated with pain relief at mulesing. Money talks A report was given by Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) as part of the updates about the performance of wool based on mulesing status over the past four years. For wool sold using the National Wool Declaration (NWD) and auction system, bales labelled as 'Not Mulesed', 'Ceased Mulesed' and 'Pain Relief' have risen from nine per cent to 20 per cent of all wool sold last year. During the 2012 season there are currently only small premiums and discounts for wool according to mulesing status, which is likely to continue until larger volumes of classified wool are sold. These findings were backed up by another study from the University of Sydney, which found between 2008 and 2011, these premiums and discounts were small. Direct sales offer the most potential to increase the prices received for unmulesed, ceased mulesed and pain relief wool. While direct-sale premiums exist, there is a lack of data to determine their size and consistency. Where to now? Breeding breech strike resistant sheep will continue to be a research and development priority. Areas which will be studied include odours which attract or repel flies, urine stain variation and the use of DNA technology. It is possible ASBVs for urine stain, face cover, neck wrinkle and perhaps odour will be created in future years. Reducing the incidence of dags in high-dag country will be another research priority, with a series of projects under review by AWI. There will also be ongoing R&D into the efficacy of pain-relief products. Finally, work will continue to increase the engagement of producers in the use of best management practices for breech strike prevention in their sheep. More information: • Presentations from the August 2012 Update are available at www.wool.com/flystrikeRnDupdate • Further information about flystrike prevention is available at www.wool.com/flystrike and www.flyboss.org.au 42 ON-FARM December 2012 BEYOND THE BALE This includes checking the most appropriate time for treatment and using the web-based Sheep CRC resource FlyBoss, which is available at www.flyboss.org.au A breakdown in the efficacy of the available chemicals has the potential to expose large numbers of unmulesed sheep to a high risk of breech strike, and all sheep to body strike. AWI and the NSW Department of Primary Industries are funding a trial to look at cyromazine and dicyclanil resistance in blowflies. They are seeking assistance from producers in collecting maggots to conduct resistance testing. More information can be obtained by emailing Garry Levot at email@example.com or telephoning him on (02) 4640 6376. Mulesing alternative Research trials continue into SkinTraction®, an intradermal alternative to mulesing carried out post-weaning. This is a low-stress method of increasing the breech and tail bare area and reducing breech wrinkles. SkinTraction® uses an intradermal application of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) to modify the skin in the target area. The full effect of SkinTraction® requires several months to occur. Early trials showed considerable variability between sites, but this seems to have been largely overcome by adopting the new treatment protocols that have been developed. These protocols include the need to keep lambs well hydrated and vaccinated against tetanus at the time of treatment, and not treating lambs during the fly season or during cold, wet and windy weather. The protocols also recommend applying antiseptic to the breech area prior to treatment, and only treating sheep greater than 30kg, in a condition score greater than 2.5 and with breech wool less than 8mm in length. While there have been encouraging results in on-farm trials the speed of treatment needs to be increased. If it is approved for release by the APVMA, it will be rolled out at a controlled and modest rate through trained contractors. Improvements aimed at reducing the age, weight and condition specifications for treatment are being planned. At this stage it is a more technical and complex tool than most other tools in the flystrike prevention strategy basket. The modified pulse, needle-free tube applicator for SkinTraction®