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A review of mulesing and other methods to control flystrike (cutaneous myiasis) in sheep

By C. J. C. Phillips

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Flystrike (cutaneous myiasis) in sheep has the potential to have a major impact on the welfare of significant numbers of sheep worldwide, but particularly in Australia. The main control method used in Australia, the mulesing operation to remove folds of skin from the hindquarters of the sheep, is effective in controlling the disease, but will be terminated from 2010 as a result of concerns that the operation itself has too great a negative impact on sheep welfare. Alternative treatment methods are considered, and it is proposed that they need to be appraised for each farm separately, based on the conditions prevailing and the potential to apply the different treatments. Sheep are predisposed to flystrike if their fleece is wet or contaminated with faeces or urine. Monitoring and awareness of the weather conditions will enable farmers to strategically treat their sheep with insecticides, or to observe them and treat affected animals more regularly. Frequent removal of wool by crutching, dagging and shearing will aid wool desiccation after rainfall and decrease the likelihood of fleece contamination with excreta. Some control of diarrhoea can be achieved by good grazing management and treatment of diseases that predispose sheep to the disorder. Reducing fly populations can be achieved by the use of traps, and parasitoid wasps also offer some promise. Alternative methods of removing wool and wrinkles from the hindquarters of sheep, including the topical application of quarternary ammonium compounds, phenols, caustic soda or plastic clips, have yet to be proven to be effective, without severely impacting on the welfare of the animal as well as compromising operator safety. In the long term, the breeding of sheep without wrinkles or wool on their hindquarters offers the most likely method of control, although a small proportion of sheep are affected on other parts of their body.

Date 2009
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 18
Issue 2
Pages 113-121
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Sciences, University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Queensland 4343, Australia.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Alternative methods
  2. Ammonia
  3. Animal genetics
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Arthropods
  7. Australasia
  8. Australia
  9. Biological control
  10. Breeding
  11. Commonwealth of Nations
  12. Contamination
  13. Control
  14. Developed countries
  15. Diarrhea
  16. Farms
  17. Feces
  18. Fleecing
  19. Flies
  20. Grazing
  21. Insecticides
  22. Insects
  23. Invertebrates
  24. Mammals
  25. Meteorology
  26. Methodologies
  27. Methods
  28. monitoring
  29. mules
  30. Oceania
  31. OECD countries
  32. Parasites
  33. parasitic infestations
  34. pastures
  35. pest control
  36. Pesticides and Drugs
  37. rain
  38. Reviews
  39. safety
  40. scouring
  41. shearing
  42. Sheep
  43. surveillance
  44. Techniques
  45. trapping
  46. urine
  47. weather
  48. Wool
  49. Wool producing animals
  50. World