Mulesing

Ref Code: SHE13

Category

Teaching - 3 (Instructor:student ratio 1:3)
Research - 4

Objective

To remove excess skin from the breech area of sheep as an aid in controlling fly-strike.

Alternatives to animal use for teaching

Video presentation

Details of procedure

Mulesing may be carried out up to 12 months of age, but preferably at lamb marking (2-12 weeks) in order to provide protection against breech and tail strike as early as possible in the life of the sheep and to confer lifetime protection. If not done then, it may be delayed to weaning or later. It will then be necessary to crutch before operating.

Avoid mulesing if sheep are in poor condition (e.g. drought) or showing signs of disease. Avoid periods when bush flies (Musca spp.) are prevalent - they delay healing and render wounds attractive for L. cuprina (sheep blowfly). If possible, avoid mulesing when extreme weather conditions prevail.

The standard mules operation takes a 'V' of wool-bearing skin extending one-third of the length of the tail, which is docked below the third palpable joint.

Drugs, chemicals or biological agents

Insecticide dressing if flies are prevalent, applied according to label directions.

Disinfectant should be available to ensure that instruments are kept clean.

Medication for pain relief.

Impact of procedure on the wellbeing of animals

While the operation causes some pain, it provides lifelong protection against flystrike.

Reuse and repeated use

One sheep per treatment.

Care of animal(s) during/after the procedure

Minimise the separation of the lambs from their mothers and allow to mother-up as quickly as possible after the procedure.

Monitor sheep without disturbance at least every 3 days during the healing period. Avoid forced moving for four weeks after mulesing.

Pain relief measures

Pain relief must be provided using a product either registered by, or under permit from, the APVMA, according to label directions.

Qualifications, experience or training necessary to perform this procedure

Mulesing is a skilled surgical task where lambs should be handled with care at every stage. Demonstrations must only be carried out by mulesing contractors accredited by the Livestock Contractors Association.

Reference

Primary Industries Standing Committee (2006), Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Sheep, 2nd edn.