THE sheep industry has been told that mandatory pain relief for mulesing is now an essential component of the social license for the ongoing production of Australian wool.
Emeritus Professor Peter Windsor from The University of Sydney said mulesing with pain relief was far preferable to flystrike morbidity or repeated crunching of wrinkled skin with dags.
However, mulesing without pain relief was no longer an acceptable or defensible practice internationally and made the job of animal welfare researchers an almost impossible task, he said.
"Although we can happily say that more than a 100 million Australian animals have received pain relief and industry is attempting to breed out the wrinkle, the fact that some in the industry refuse to accept that they must spend a dollar on mulesing a lamb with pain relief, rather than continue to commit cruelty, makes our position as their defenders increasingly untenable.
It is impossible for the wool industry to claim it is a responsible international citizen when it permits sheep to be mulesed without pain relief.
"It is impossible for the Australian wool industry to claim it is a responsible international citizen with ethical practices, when it permits sheep to be mulesed without pain relief."
Prof Windsor said the concept of corporate social responsibility for the Australian sheep industry had emerged after the Tampa live export in August 2001 and early in the ongoing debates on mulesing.
"Corporate social responsibility is a sustainable business practice where an industry displays it has the consciousness of societal citizenship," Prof Windsor said.
"Mulesing with pain relief is a great example of how the expectations of increasing social responsibility impacts on the way things are done on-farm."
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