IT was borne from the recognition that the livestock industry needed to stay ahead of the game.
A kitchen table conversation between forward thinking Cloncurry-based pastoralist, the late Zanda McDonald, and industry leader Chick Olsson more than 10 years ago questioned how the beef industry could ensure the continued use of essential husbandry practices including dehorning, castration and branding.
Disturbed by the ongoing and damaging campaign launched by US-based extreme animal rights group PETA on the wool industry and its use of mulesing, the pair recognised that the beef industry was potentially open to attack.
Regardless of how important the practices were ultimately to an animal’s long term welfare, conventional husbandry practices - particularly those that involved invasive surgery - could easily be misconstrued by activist groups campaigning to destroy consumer confidence in the $17 billion industry.
Part of the solution lay in providing pain relief that was both effective and able to be applied in difficult environment presented by busy and dusty cattle yards.
Enter Trisolfen, a product developed by Animal Ethics, a company owned by Mr Olsson and other keen investors determined to counter PETA’s attack on Australian wool.
The antiseptic gel now licensed to Bayer Trisolfen is a pain relieving and wound healing formulation that has short term and long term analgesia, antiseptics, reduces blood loss and coats the wound.
“When PETA started campaigning against mulesing, US retailers of Australian wool began dropping like flies,” Mr Olsson said.
“The industry could fight PETA all it wanted and argue that mulesing was essential, but the reality was retailers were refusing to sell Australian wool and increasing numbers of consumers were refusing to buy Australian wool.
“Until the use of pain relief became widespread, PETA was winning and the only losers were Australian woolgrowers. Zanda could see a potentially similar problem emerging for the beef industry.
“We needed to be proactive and ensure the way we produce beef is in line with consumer expectations about how animals are treated.”