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The facts about mulesing

The facts about mulesing

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Published by Michael Gorey
The facts about mulesing
The facts about mulesing

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Published by: Michael Gorey on Mar 08, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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PETA, the master of myth-information, continues to myth-lead the public aboutmulesing in its latest piece “The Six Myths of Mulesing” 
PETAsm   y  t  h1  :Mu  e  sng  is  n  ’ t  nece  ssa  ry  
There is nothing worse for an Australian Merino sheep than to sufferthe pain and agony of attack by flesh-eating maggots hatched fromthe eggs of the aggressive sheep blowfly
L         p      
Thesemaggots eat the flesh of the sheep, causing bloody wounds andeventual blood poisoning. The sheep is likely to die unless found andtreated quickly.The sheep blowfly prefers to attack the breech (backside) of the Merino sheep.Faeces and, in the case of females, urine, accumulates in the wool growing on theskin folds around the breech making it an attractive target for the blowfly.Mulesed sheep have a clean, non-wool bearing area around the breech, making itsignificantly less likely that faeces and urine will accumulate. Consequently, eggs willnot be laid by the blowfly.PETA continually implies woolgrowers who mules their sheep do not use othermethods to stop their sheep being flystruck. This is totally incorrect! Growers do allof the things that PETA recommends – crutching, jetting with insecticides, the use of flytraps, internal parasite control, pasture management, regular flock inspections andselecting for plainer-breeched sheep. These are all performed as a complement tomulesing – but none of them can replace mulesing for its effectiveness.PETA says 20% of farmers do not mules. Most of these farmers have cross-bredsheep for prime lamb production (20% of the Australian sheep flock). These sheephave a plain breech which does not present the same problem as the Merino sheepwhich is a specialist, fine wool breed producing the world’s best apparel wool.The proven experience is that non-mulesed Merinos have a much higher rate of breech strike than mulesed Merinos. Therefore they suffer the stress of flystrikewhich can occur every year and often several times within a fly season. Flystrike is avery stressful experience for sheep.Research indicates a very high percentage (95%) of Merino sheep are mulesed.* Thereason for this is clear – it is highly effective in giving sheep lifetime protection frombreech strike, thereby saving them from the stress and risk of premature death fromflystike.*In ‘The Land’ on February 17, 2005, an officer of the Department reported that “100% of Merinos examined at Deniliquin saleyards had been mulesed and about10% of first-cross ewes were also shown to have been mulesed.” (Deniliquin is insouth western NSW and the area has a large sheep population.)
PETA quotes Chick Olsson. Chick, representing the Australian Wool GrowersAssociation, was involved in the Industry Stakeholder meeting which supported theneed to continue the current practice of mulesing until it is phased out by 2010.
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RSPCA (Australia) states on its website that: “in particular geographical locations, where there is a high risk of flystrike and it has been established that there is absolutely noacceptable alternative to mulesing, the RSPCA considers mulesing anecessary means of eliminating or minimising the pain and sufferingcaused by flystrike.’ A leading rural newspaper in Australia, the Weekly Times, reported that RSPCA(Aust.) President, Hugh Wirth, said that PETA was dangerous and had undone a lotof the good work done by the RSPCA over many years. (Weekly Times, Jan. 19,2005, p.5).
    3         woo       ow                      
Deliberate cruelty to animals is totally unacceptable to sheepproducers. Flystrike inflicts pain, suffering and likely death to sheep.Once mulesed, the sheep has life-long protection against the horrificsuffering and likely death that breech flystrike can cause. “If left alone, blowflies in the hot Australian climate create open wounds that killsheep through infection.” Catherine Munro, The Sunday Age, 30 January 2005.Australian sheep and wool producers manage more than 100 million sheep. This is a365 day per year commitment, year in and year out, through good seasons and bad.No one knows more about animal welfare than a hands-on producer.It is plain common sense that sheep which are unhealthy or poorly managed willhave lesser quality wool. Only contented, well-cared for sheep produce quality wooland lambs every year.
    4W  o      d“k        k     k      ”  ?  
The industry did not say mulesing was like ‘skinning your knuckles’.But neither is mulesing ‘cutting chunks of flesh off lambs’ backsideswith gardening shears’ as untruthfully propagated by PETA.The study to which PETA refers (‘abnormal behaviours for up to 113 days’) actuallymeasured data only at the 35 day and 113 day mark and nothing in between. Lambsmay well have recovered on day 36 but that was not recorded.What PETA does not report is that the same stress measures indicate acute stressreactions in sheep during flystrike, which can persist for the duration of the infection.

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