A major product development and trial roll out has begun with the intention to process and collect data from 150,000 lambs this spring, one of the largest trials ever known to be undertaken. Some 1000 farms have taken a step toward helping to find an alternative to our conventional mulesing technique, with the view of trying to help the whole industry be proactive in our charge to be the cleanest, greenest and most efficient industry in the world. We already have the best renewable energy saving fabric in the world, lets make it the consumers first choice.
Both David and Ian were approved to apply clips during the trail period with the AWI and are planning to do the update course to continue to provide this service.
When the announcement was made in 2004 about the phasing out of mulesing by the end of 2010, I was as critical of the decision as most of you farmers and graziers. The reasons for this were :
- it seemed that there was little industry consultation.
- Mulesing, while I cannot say that I would wake up in the morning looking forward to the task ahead, knew that not to mules was sentencing 20 – 30% of the lambs to death by flies and I would rather have a piece of skin cut off me than have flies.
- the only real two alternatives were to crutch more often, like 3 – 4 times a year or use more chemical, adding something in the order of $4 per head per year to the cost of production.
In relation to lack of industry consultation, all of the major industry bodies were involved in the round table discussions that formed the final decision. Only in the last few months, (May 07), Marks and Spence, one of the worlds largest wool buyers visited Australia to source “clean” wool. While this initially meant chemical free, a spokesman said that the consumers were more environmentally demanding now than ever before and they want products that are just that. And remember, the buyer is always right.
While Mulesing is a major income stream within our business if we don’t take hold of the direction of our industry, then others who have nothing to do with our industry will, in just the same way as PETA have.
The question is quite often brought up about who is going to police the “mulesing ” after 2010 and how will the wool buyers know which sheep the wool has come from. They won’t, but buyers will just make a blanket decision not to buy wool and use alternatives, unless it is “guaranteed”. So the few who rebel, I believe, will cost the industry as a whole, big time.