It's been something of a quiet revolution that has seen the Merino industry move past the divisive mulesing debate while still being to protect tens of millions of sheep from potentially blowfly strike.
Western NSW Merino breeder Tom Moxham said the revolution was driven by the widespread adoption of animal welfare practices, and in particular the delivery of effective pain relief for the still necessary practice of mulesing.
Mr Moxham, who runs some 20,000 Merinos on the 20,200 hectare (50,000 acre) Nyngan property Mullengudgery, said producers had become extremely aware of maximising the performance of their animals through improved animal welfare practices.
"There has certainly been a ongoing shift in the industry and its all about improving animal welfare because it ultimately is just makes very good economic sense," Mr Moxham said.
"Anyone who has seen the devastation and suffering that blowflies can cause to sheep understands why mulesing with pain relief is an important option."
Mr Moxham, who is also a director of the Australian Wool Growers Association, said mulesing was done for no other reason than to provide lifetime protection for sheep from blowfly strike.
"Now that is done with pain relief, it certainly makes absolute sense in terms of animal welfare"
Mullengudgery focuses on breeding 'bread and butter' 20-micron poll and horned rams for mainly western NSW clients as well as running a commercial flock on the open plains and timbered creek country that makes up the property.
"Other strategies like breeding plainer, less flystrike prone animals are also happening as part of animal welfare and production improving measures," Mr Moxham said.
"But at this stage there is nothing more effective than mulesing for providing extremely effective, life protection against blowflies."
Non-mulesed sheep - particularly ewes - have also been heavily discounted by $10-$30/head at recent sales.
The drop in values also reflects the wool trade's limited premiums for fibre from non-mulesed sheep.
Mullengudgery manager Manning Doughty said "gold standard" animal welfare involved both a pre- and post-operation pain relief for any surgical procedure.
All of the lambs bred on Mullengudgery are first injected with meloxicam or receive the oral equivalent and are then immediately treated with Tri-Solfen when they are mulesed.
"There is just no set back for animals treated with pain relief," Mr Doughty said.
"The animals are out of the cradle, back eating, and back with their mothers as if nothing has happened.
"Providing pain relief is just what sheep breeders do when it comes to animal welfare."
It's a view shared by major sheep processor Roger Fletcher, who said it was a given that livestock producers took the best possible care of their livestock.
"But it's not just limited to producers," Mr Fletcher said
"All of the supply chain is on the same track because it is in everyone's interests to be producing the best animals and ultimately the best products we can.
"It's everything from the way we handle our pharmaceuticals, about having better yards and sheds, better livestock handling management, better trucks, and even better processes at meatworks.
"Everywhere you look animal welfare continues to improve because animal welfare is central to the industry."
Mr Fletcher said in his regular travels to overseas markets, it was evident that Australia was the world leader in animal welfare and in providing pain relief to animals undergoing routine husbandry procedures.
"We even have producers from other countries coming here saying how can we adopt was Australia has going on here," he said.
Fletchers International operates two meatworks, one near Dubbo and one near Albany in WA, processing up to 90,000 sheep and lambs a week or more than 4.5 million head a year.
The family owned company also runs about 90,000 hectares of land, including more than 27,000ha of farming country.
In addition to sheepmeat, the company is heavily involved in logistics and also deals in commodities including wool, skins, wheat, cotton, barley and chickpeas.