Non-surgical mulesing

The physical approach to alter sheep breach without creating an open-wound are called non-surgical mulesing. Their aim is to reach the same result as mulesing in term of breech conformation.


The clips are positioned as shown on this picture

The first physical approach to alter the breech uses 4 specially designed plastic clips placed as shown on the picture. The clip pressures the flap of skin that prevent blood flow to it and causes the skin flap to fall off within a couple of weeks without creating an open wound. A study on the welfare impact of those clips shown small physiological changes within the day of the application that resolve thereafter and no behavioral modification due to the treatment. This suggest a substantive welfare advance compared with mulesing. The effectiveness of the treatment, however, is significantly lower than mulesing.

It is interesting to note also that the wool producers are skeptical about this alternative, arguing that they don’t believe it is a viable option regarding their lower efficacy than mulesing, that they were difficult and time consuming to use, involving greater handling of sheep than mulesing and clips falling off the sheep in the paddock was also a concern. Interestingly, none of the interviewees of the study that reported those concerns had tried the clip themselves of talked with producers who had tried it (Wells et al., 2011).

Intradermal injection

Unmulesed on the left, treated animal on the right (less wrinkle)

The intra-dermal injection of sodium lauryl sulphate with a needleless applicator causes the death of skin cells in the treated area that fall off. Apart from a reduces feeding behavior on the day after treatment, no behavioral or physiological modification was found on the day after treatment, which suggest a strong improvement of the welfare compared to mulesing. The effectiveness of the treatment remains to be determined.

The producers have generally a positive opinion of the intra-dermal injection even if none of the interviewees had tried it (Wells et al., 2011).



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