Mulesing and Pain Relief in WA
Recently, sheep farmers in Wickepin asked RSPCA WA what percentage of sheep currently receive pain relief during mulesing. Read more
The most up to date information on pain relief and mulesing is published in the WA Sheep Producer Survey 2014 and comes from a survey of 4,910 WA sheep producers by DAFWA, now the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. The survey results showed that overall, including prime lamb and wool production, 59% of merino lambs mulesed were done so with pain relief (page 3) and this was a slight increase when compared to survey results in 2011.
The report also includes a breakdown of mulesing statistics for prime lamb vs wool.
To be eligible to take the survey, producers had to have more than 500 sheep in the medium rainfall (south west, Perth to Albany) or cereal-sheep zone (from Geraldton to Esperance) and the respondents only represented a small fraction of the overall industries in those zones.
The Code of Practice for Sheep in WA (2003) prescribed under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 does not mention pain-relief. In contrast, the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep (2016) state:
S7.3 A person must not mules sheep that are 6-12 months old without using appropriate pain relief.
G7.8 Mulesing should be accompanied by pain relief where practical and cost-effective methods are available. Operators should seek advice on current pain minimisation strategies.
The WA Minister for Agriculture and Food, Alannah MacTiernan, is planning to adopt all national Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Livestock in Western Australia.