Mulesing

 

I feel I must wade into the Mulesing debate. There has been a lot of publicity about it and it seems the farmers opinion is ignored.

Muelsing began in the 1920s in South Australia, developed by Bill Mules.

It involves cutting skin from each side of the sheep's rear end. This causes the skin to shrink as it heals and removes wrinkles in this area so there is no moist area for blowflies to breed.

Anyone who has seen a flyblown sheep will agree it is a terrible thing and an awful way to for an animal to suffer.

Muelsing has put an end to a lot of suffering for millions of sheep.

In saying this however there are not many farmers who enjoy mulseing. It is not a fun job for animal or handler but the lack of reasonable alternatives have made it a necessary practise.

As for the lambs, it is obviously a painful practise, but a practise from which they recover remarkable quickly.

The practise of battery farming is a cruel operation in which the poor hen spends most of it's life in a tiny cage without even a place to perch.

Fishing is something no-one thinks about but the poor fish are cruelly hooked in the mouth for long periods of time then pulled into boats and left to suffocate, or caught in nets and drawn out of the water to once again suffocate, their life over.

Spearing of whales and dolphins is something still permitted, I haven't noticed PETA doing anything about Japanese whaling yet. What a terrible way for an animal to die.

Americans love hunting, every hunting season they head out in the camouflage gear to shoot anything that moves, including each other at times. Many animals are wounded and left to die, PETA are a bit quiet here too. Too close to home perhaps. In america more than 10,000 dogs and cats are euthanased every day, seven days a week. Something wrong there.

There would be many dogs locked in backyards all over the world, who rarely ever get out to run free, or play with other dogs. To me this is extreme cruelty. And then people wonder why these dogs have behaviour problems.

As for sheep, most farmers really do care for their animals, after all they are our livelihood, why would we do something to them which would cause unnecessary suffering. Muelsing is the lesser of two evils.

If I was a sheep I would choose a quick operation when young against possible long drawn out suffering in the future.

It is easy for people to say crutch them more often, or spray them with chemicals. The use of chemicals would skyrocket, causing more problems, and what animal likes being sprayed with chemicals anyway. The use of chemicals is something we are trying to minimize. Also these operations require yarding the sheep again and risking putting them under more stress.

It is not only a flystrike issue here. An unmulsed sheep can quickly get a very dirty behind, (daggy) a really daggy sheep can carry a kg or so of dags on his rear end. How comfortable can this be for the animal.? And at the other end of the scale shearers are not happy to shear sheep like this and can you blame them? Then there is the contamination issue. So the companies who dont want to buy wool from muelsed sheep may have more important issues to deal with when contaminated wool becomes a problem.

Admitedly, the lambs are miserable after the operation, but they rarely die from it. Many times I have watched them after the operation when they are put back into the paddock with their mothers. It is amazing in a mob of 1,000 sheep how they find their mothers but they do. I have seen a lamb bellowing for its mother and seen mum come galloping from way over the other end of the paddock to find her baby.

After they have a drink and a feed of grass they recover quickly, and by the next day are usually all happily grazing together with their mothers.

In fact sheep on farms spend most of their life happily grazing. They are yarded perhaps 4 times a year, for drenching, shearing, crutching and jetting. They spend about a week out of a year in a yard, hardly cruelty. A pretty good life in fact.

Misinformation is everywhere on the internet. I recently read that somewhere they shoulder mules sheep, I have never heard of such a thing and doubt it would occur. I also read about the so called increased cancer risk in mulesed sheep. Sheep rarely get cancer and can get it on their ears as often as anywhere else.

Also one ridiculous statement I read said that Australian farmers caused extreme stress to the sheep by having to get them all yarded and shorn before spring, as they shed their wool in springtime. This is the sort of nonsense that gets spread around and uninformed people actually believe it.

Which is the real problem, people tend to believe what they hear in the press without finding out the real truth for themselves or perhaps they just believe what they want to believe as it is easier.

If more people cared to research the issues before making judgements so many industries would not be faced with having to defend themselves or be subjected to misunderstandings, and perhaps we could just get on with what we do best.

I also truly hope they come up with a suitable alternative for mulesing as most farmers would be happier not to have to do it.

However just stopping mulesing without doing anything else is going to cause many more problems than it will fix.