Mulesing Ban “Counterproductive”

NSW Farmers Association will oppose a bill to ban mulesing and government-mandated pain relief, introduced by the Animal Justice Party to State Parliament last year. 

NSW Farmers’ President, James Jackson, said the push to ban mulesing is counter to achieving positive animal welfare outcomes. He said it was an effective fly-strike mitigation tool that must be maintained for the sake of animal welfare.

Mulesing involves removal of strips of wool-bearing skin from around the breech (buttocks) of a sheep to prevent parasitic infection from flies attracted by faeces and urine in soiled wool. The effect was exacerbated by folds of skin bred into sheep to increase wool yield.

The scar tissue that grows over the wound does not grow wool.

PETA’s billboard that appeared on the freeways of cities like New York. Ewen Shearer presented an alternative take on the issue from a sheep’s vantage, in this heart-felt plea.

The century-old technique was developed in Australia but became politicised by an international campaign by PETA in 2005.

Banning mulesing would expose millions of sheep to the risk of flystrike, which is a substantially worse welfare outcome," Mr Jackson said. 

With wool grown in many different climatic conditions across NSW, no one flystrike mitigation approach can be uniformly applied. For many producers in NSW, mulesing is a key mitigation measure”.

There is a real danger that banning mulesing could lead to increased dependency on trade sensitive chemical treatments. Greater use of these chemicals also creates the risk of flies becoming more quickly resistant to insecticides, which would lead to sub-optimal fly strike mitigation." 

Although NSW Farmers said it supports the mandatory use of pain relief during mulesing through an industry led-initiative, it opposes mandated pain-relief through government regulation.

Mr Jackson said that this bill is pushing for sweeping reforms that would impact on all livestock industries. 

The bill seeks to mandate pain relief for a range of routine husbandry procedures, including earmarking, ear-tagging, branding, castration, de-horning, and tail docking," Mr Jackson said.

This would mean significant changes for all livestock industries and these reforms are better driven by industry. Increased industry uptake of pain relief is already occurring, as more products become available and as husbandry practices evolve.”

NSW Farmers made submission into the Upper House inquiry on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment (Restrictions on Stock Animals Procedure) Bill 2019, and will appear before a hearing on Tuesday (11 August 2020).

Farmers can make independent submissions via the Parliamentary survey on the Bill.