Well, it must be terribly painful...but the key thing is it became the focus of foreign animal right's activists (who'd prolly never seen the horrors of flystrike and had no idea of the size of Australian sheep stations and the difficulties of really being able to check stock frequently enough to stop them being tortured by that) and I think they threatened the overseas lamb and wool markets enough for the industry to respond.
As I said, I have never seen it being used, and crutching and good stock care seemed to do the job pretty well (sheep I saw with strike were kind of unwell, and had sort of wandered off a bit, and were harder to find.)
I cannot see any reason for a horribly painful option when a less nasty one and reasonable management practice does the job. I have heard that argued by sheep farmers...that mulesing is cruel and unnecessary.
RSPCA on it:
Subject STATEMENT FROM RSPCA AUSTRALIA REGARDING MULESING OF SHEEP.
Text RSPCA Australia does not endorse or accept mulesing as an essential sheep husbandry procedure.
In particular geographical locations, where there is a high risk of flystrike and it has been established that there is absolutely no acceptable alternative to mulesing, the RSPCA considers mulesing a necessary means of eliminating or minimising the pain and suffering caused by flystrike.
In these instances, the mulesing must be performed by an experienced and competent person.
Routine mulesing should be performed on appropriately restrained lambs of no more than 12 weeks of age. If it is necessary to conduct mulesing on an older sheep, it must also be properly restrained, an anaesthetic or analgesic administered, and appropriate post-operative procedures employed to ensure rapid healing.
RSPCA Australia strongly supports ongoing research into safe and humane alternatives to mulesing for the prevention of flystrike and encourages industry to treat this as a priority.
RSPCA Australia is an animal welfare organisation that works to prevent cruelty to animals by actively promoting their care and protection. It is not an animal rights organisation. The RSPCA is not aligned with any current public campaign by any animal rights organisation regarding the mulesing of sheep."
In response to pressure from international retailers in 2004, the Australian wool industry unconditionally committed to end the practice of mulesing by 2010. It was a decision not taken lightly at the time, but was one that was essential to retain the support of international customers.
The overwhelming source of pressure on retailers was due to the activities, which often involved threats and misinformation, of US based animal rights extremist group People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
This commitment was made by a collective group of every major grower organisation in the country. This was a unanimous decision and there was no dissent.
The commitment to phase mulesing out was then formalised in agreements with the British Retail Consortium (UK) and the National Retail Federation (US).
The industry agreed to form the Australian Wool and Sheep Industry Taskforce (AWSIT) to manage the response. The Australian government, through DAFF, has been an observer on the AWSIT from its inception.
Wool industry research and development corporation Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has continued to provide the British Retail Consortium and the National Retail Federation with quarterly reports on mulesing alternative research.
AWI has invested approximately $10 million between 2004/05 and 2006/07 into researching and developing alternatives to mulesing and this strong commitment is continuing;
Four promising alternatives are currently moving through the R&D process: breech modifying clips; intradermal injection; mapping of the sheep blowfly genome to identify potential vulnerability; and, genetic research to breed sheep with barer breeches.
Australian Wool Innovation
National Wool Declaration
From 1 July 2008 all wool being sold through the auction system will be required to have an accompanying National Wool Declaration (NWD). This document will include information on chemical use, dark fibre risk and most importantly, mulesing status.
The NWD was developed through a rigorous process as part of the AWEX Industry Services Advisory Committee (ISAC), which advises on such aspects of the auction system. ISAC has a wide input from key wool pipeline stakeholders including growers, brokers, exporters and processors.
The declaration asks growers to indicate whether they have ceased mulesing or if individual mobs (or even the entire clip) have not been mulesed. It also allows growers to declare if they used a pain relief treatment during the procedure.
The NWD was not designed to disadvantage growers who are still mulesing.
While it does offer choice to those customers who have already indicated that they are seeking wool from farms that no longer mules, most importantly the NWD gives confidence to retailers that the industry is responding to their demand for change.
A key feature of the NWD is that, over time, it will provide evidence to retailers of an incremental increase in the amount of wool available that is from unmulesed sheep or farms that do not mules.
Phasing out mulesing will be without doubt much harder for some than it is for others. But if we can send the message that as an industry we are unified and embracing change, we will go a long way to ensuring that our customers stay with wool.
At a time when mulesing is causing much debate in the wool industry, the NWD is a very positive initiative that all sections of the industry should embrace."
The US animal rights people often talk out of their bum in my experience, being ignorant of the situation on the ground and such, but I also think a lot of casual cruelty is done to animals for no reason......like, if anaesthetic sprays are available, ok, it adds to cost, but causing unnecessary pain to other creatures is anathema to me.
I am obviously used to practices in drier areas...hence never having heard of mulesing until it was raised as a cruelty issue.