Abstracts: A scientific comment on the welfare of domesticated ruminants slaughtered without stunning

This review provides a scientific comment on the welfare of ruminants slaughtered by ventral-neck incision without stunning.

Evidence is derived from studies of calves, sheep and goats. Reference is also made to findings in other mammals including humans. Pain is an inherently subjective experience and only indirect indices are available in animals. Neurophysiological tools are widely . . . → Read More: Abstracts: A scientific comment on the welfare of domesticated ruminants slaughtered without stunning

Sheep deaths spark further export debate


Flickr Live Export Bader III MaasmondmaritimeLive exports have again made news after more than 4000 sheep died from heat exhaustion after 21 days on board a live export ship bound for Qatar from Fremantle.


Exporter Livestock Shipping Service (LSS) said 4179 sheep died in the Gulf of Aden in August last year aboard the Bader III vessel.


LSS is a Perth based Jordanian-owned company based in Perth and they are under investigation by Federal authorities for breaches of export regulations in Jordan and Gaza.


The company issued a statement through a PR firm which said the majority of sheep were loaded in accordance with Australian Standards and most of the sheep died during an extreme weather event on the 21st day of the voyage.


Industry and Government supported heat stress risk modeling computer software was used to assess this voyage and is used by the company to assess all voyages to the Middle East and northern Hemisphere destination,” the statement said.


The statement added the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) increased the minimum space requirements for sheep by 10 per cent above Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock requirements for the next consignment of livestock on the vessel.


Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia (PGA) President, Rob Gillam, conceded the incident is “not really what the industry needed.” Continue reading Sheep deaths spark further export debate

Snag a statement to protect your flock

With ram sale season in full swing, buyers are being urged to protect their flocks from unwanted diseases by asking for a Sheep Health Statement.

The SHS has been designed for use across Australia to help sheep producers in taking a risk-management approach to their farm biosecurity.

It provides information on flock history, Ovine Johne’s Disease vaccination and . . . → Read More: Snag a statement to protect your flock

Mulesing debate continues

A study conducted by the University of Melbourne’s Mackinnon Project that compared the controversial practice of mulesing with the use of breech clips, and applications of a long-acting insecticide to combat breech flystrike in sheep, has found that mulesing remains the most effective method.

The three-year study, which did not include animal welfare outcomes, was led by project director, and Australian Sheep Vet Society member, John Larsen, and involved more than 6000 sheep in three self-replacing merino flocks at Nareen, Ballarat and East Gippsland, in Victoria.

Publication of the results coincided with renewed pressure by animal welfare groups on the fashion industry, urging it to ban the use of mulesed wool in the manufacture of garments, and urging farmers to ban the practice of mulesing.

Although results are still being finalised, the study has shown that clips were less effective and cost-effective as had been hoped, and provided little protection from strike during spring and early summer. Animals that were treated with the insecticide Clik however, showed a similar or lower prevalence of flystrike to mulesed sheep during the pre-Christmas peak breech-strike period.

“There was no difference in the prevalence of breech strike between the mulesed and unmulesed groups but once the protection from the chemical expired after Christmas, the unmulesed sheep were at greater risk of breech strike compared to both the clipped and mulesed ones,” Larsen said.

While no farmer enjoys the “unpleaseant” task of mulesing Larsen said it was still an effective method, although he stressed breeding for less wrinkle and wool on the breech was clearly the way forward, and where the industry “should be going aggressively”. Continue reading Mulesing debate continues

The good oil

A tea tree plantation in Coraki, NSW

While researching the development of new products and markets for Australia’s tea tree oil industry, scientists from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation found tea tree oil is an effective and environmentally benign treatment for fly strike and lice infestations in sheep.

Already widely recognised for its medicinal properties and use as an insect repellent for humans, the study’s results suggest tea tree oil derived from Melaleuca alternifolia could also prove to be a commercially successful veterinary treatment for use in the sheep and wool industries.

In the team’s laboratory trials, solutions containing one per cent tea tree oil consistently resulted in a 100 per cent kill rate of first stage maggots. There was also strong evidence to suggest the solution repelled adult flies, with no eggs being laid on the wool for up to six weeks.

Lead researcher Peter James from the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation said the results were particularly encouraging.

“Our lab trials showed that a one per cent tea tree oil formulation reliably produced a 100 per cent kill rate of lice and lice eggs, but we were very pleased to see that our pen trials generated the same results,” James said.

Shorn sheep used in the trials were inspected at two, six, 12, and 20 weeks after being dipped in the one per cent tea tree oil solution, but at no point were lice found in the wool. Animals with longer wool were also tested, using both one per cent, and two per cent solutions. In all cases results showed a significant reduction in louse numbers and wool damage in comparison to controls at two weeks after treatment. Continue reading The good oil