Queensland considers pain relief mandate, NSW lags behind

Queensland considers pain relief mandate, NSW lags behind

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In one month's time, it will be mandatory to provide pain relief to sheep when mulesing them in Victoria.

In one month's time, it will be mandatory to provide pain relief to sheep when mulesing them in Victoria.

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The Queensland government is currently progressing a new code of practice which would mandate the use of pain relief while mulesing.

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The Queensland government is currently progressing a new code of practice which would mandate the use of pain relief while mulesing.

Queensland Agriculture Minister Mark Furner said under the proposed Sheep Code of Practice, all mulesed sheep regardless of age must be given pain relief.

This comes as Victoria creeps closer to the date its new laws come into place, mandating the use of pain relief when mulesing.

From July 1 this year, if a person is mulesing sheep in Victoria, they must administer pain relief that has been registered for use on sheep by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, in accordance with the updated Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019.

If caught mulesing without pain relief, Victorian producers could face a fine of $496, or if taken to court, a penalty of up to $3304 may be imposed.

Victorian Farmers Federation livestock group chair Leonard Vallance said other states should understand the pressures they would be under if they don't change their laws.

Mr Vallance said through the VFF's own research, they found that 90 per cent of Victorian producers were already using pain relief when mulesing, so the change in laws would be "business as usual" in a month's time.

"Unlike other pain relief options for other surgical procedures like castrating and dehorning, the delivery mechanisms for pain relief in mulesing are pretty quick and effective, so it's already been common practice in Victoria," he said.

He said while it was up to the individual states to make their own decisions, they should "look at the environment they're operating in".

But the NSW government has indicated it had no plans to mandate pain relief for mulesing.

NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall said the industry was already addressing the challenge head-on, meaning there was no need for additional government regulation.

"There is clear evidence that a growing number of producers are choosing to use pain relief for practices such as mulesing and that market forces are contributing to a reduction in mulesing more generally, with non-mulesed wool now attracting a premium price," Mr Marshall said.

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The University of Sydney School of Veterinary Science Emeritus Professor Peter Windsor started researching pain relief in mulesing in 2005 and said his stance had always been that it should be mandatory.

Professor Windsor said given there was overwhelming evidence that sheep greatly benefited from the use of pain relief, it was cruel not to use it.

"It's an extremely painful operation for the animal, so you'd like to think that everybody was [using pain relief]," he said.

Current data from the National Wool Declaration indicated that just above 80pc of Australian producers who mulesed used pain relief.

"But the international community expects it to be 100pc," Professor Windsor said.

"The fact is the market for wool is outside of Australia, so you have to listen to consumers and they're saying they don't want wool from mulesed sheep."

But he said attitudes were changing among producers themselves.

"It's gone from a situation where farmers were basically trying to convince themselves that sheep don't feel pain to now where the majority of farmers have seen that these pain relief products are effective, and they're happy to adopt them and pay that little bit extra for the welfare of their animals," he said.

And he believed decision-makers would eventually follow.

"I would think it's more than likely the other states will follow Victoria," he said.

"There will always be particular leaders in the industry that don't want to go down that path but I believe Victoria had those same issues and they managed to get it through."

SA Primary Industries Minister Tim Whetstone was contacted for comment but did not reply by the time of publication.

The story Queensland considers pain relief mandate, NSW lags behind first appeared on Farm Online.

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