Statement: Now is the time to promote pain-free alternative to mulesing

By : Humane Society International October 8, 2021

Yesterday the Australian Wool Growers Association published their animal welfare policy, wherein the association stated it does not support Wool 2030’s target to have confidence in managing fly strike without mulesing by 2030. 

The release of this publication coincided with an industry roundtable called by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to discuss how Australian Wool Innovation’s Wool 2030 strategic plan objectives can be implemented, including the goal to grow confidence in managing fly strike without mulesing.

It is critical for the future of Australia’s wool industry to shift to readily available and pain-free solutions to fly strike such as breeding plain bodied sheep without the wrinkles that make them so prone to the problem. Increasing industry confidence in a phase-out of mulesing will be beneficial for woolgrowers and allow Australian producers to remain competitive in a global market that is quickly turning against painful mulesing.

At least ten per cent of Australian woolgrowers already produce non-mulesed wool through the breeding of plain-bodied sheep that are naturally flystrike resistant, a huge welfare win for sheep without any financial compromise. Last year, the launch of the report Towards a Non-Mulesed Future by socioeconomic consulting firm BG Economics, highlighted the success experienced by producers across the country who have used genetics to battle flystrike, instead of painful mulesing. HSI would like to see wool industry leaders similarly promoting those experiences and investing in building that expertise.

Nicola Beynon, Head of Campaigns for Humane Society International, said, “We support the industry’s 2030 goal to foster industry confidence in a move away from mulesing. We encourage anyone defending mulesing to read the room. Animal welfare concerns are not going away and cannot be fobbed off. Mulesing is the most painful way to manage flystrike, whereas breeding plain-bodied Merino sheep is the best long-term solution to both mulesing and flystrike.

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