MULESING – A Farmers view to this cruel 'backstreet' mutilation.
The Mulesing of lambs and young sheep is an extremely cruel and bloody procedure inflicted on thousands of Australian sheep every year.
This procedure is performed by farmers who have had, in the main, absolutely no training or by amateurs who make a seasonal living travelling from farm to farm to perform this ‘service’ at a cost to the farmer.
Mulesing entails running a sharp knife around the breech area about the size of a dinner plate, then ripping off the wool bearing skin within that area. However many so – called mulesers also rip the skin off the already docked tails; which is totally unacceptable.
What needs to be understood by the general public, is that these ‘mutilators’ don’t care as to the accuracy of their cuts or how far the ripped skin tears. Sheep can even have skin ripped away from their legs. There is no policing, no standards, and no anaesthetic. The motto of the person doing the mutilation is that they are only sheep, so who gives a shit!
The reason given to justify this cruel and painful farm practice is that the farmer has been led to believe and still does believe that this will give the animal life time protection against BLOWFLY strike in the breech (around the anal region). While this may be true to some extent, the Australian BLOWFLY being the scourge of the sheep industry is not selective in off loading its hundreds of maggots and very easily finds many smelly damp warm places to deposit its future generations and quite often on puss infected areas of a newly mulesed backside.
Farmers are too mean to spend money on finding other solutions to this problem. There are other solutions, such as crutching more often and generally taking better care of the animals.
It is easier to pay once for the skin around the bum to be cut off than it is to get the sheep in to for example: crutch or spray.
The serious downside to mulesing is that ewes are extremely susceptible to vulva cancer and other sheep to carcinoma cancerous growths around this sensitive sun exposed breech area after being mutilated by mulesing.
Does mulesing work
There are NO records from any research to indicate how successful mulesing is. This mutilation is performed ‘JUST IN CASE’. No one would argue a flyblown sheep is a very distressing sight and an absolutely horrendous thing to happen to the sheep, but the premise: to mutilate or mules, ‘just in case’ is not acceptable.
Further, what is certain is that the numbers of young sheep that die through tetanus, blood loss, and stress or blowfly maggot infestations due to mulesing will be far greater than from any possible blowfly strike.
If farmers insist on using Merino sheep, then it is also their responsibility to ensure their animals are treated humanely. If that means by crutching however often it takes to ensure the animals are not attacked by flies then so be it. Mulesing is a ‘lazy man’s’ way of saving money and effort.
The writer of this article has been informed that the Department of Agriculture of Western Australia is currently conducting MULESING WORKSHOPS in a number of major rural centres.
Please contact the Department of Agriculture to make your protest heard. Write a polite letter to email, post or fax, voicing your opposition at this cruel barbaric treatment, asking for the Dept to stop promoting mulesing.
Dr Michael Paton;
Western Australian Department of Agriculture
3 Barron Hay Court
South Perth 6151
Fax: 9368 1205
Crutching all sheep during the start of the blowfly season is the better alternative to mulesing.
This gives the farmer an opportunity to take a closer look at each individual animal who may also have other problems at the time.
Crutching entails shearing the wool from around the whole breech area starting from about two inches above the base of the tail and including the tail and down the back and sides of both back legs.
The pizzle area, under the belly is shorn and the whole face area around the eyes, ears horns and top of the head wool is removed. With a good shearer, this procedure should not take longer than five minutes.
A good caring farmer will do this, however many don’t and wont because THIS COSTS MONEY!!
Oh sure they will spend thousands of dollars each year to update their tractors but they wont bring in a shearer to crutch their sheep in the blowfly season.