IT HAS some big shoes to fill, but already the New Zealand designed tail docking iron has been given a resounding thumbs-up by a number of Australian sheep breeders looking for an alternative fly strike management tool.
Commercially launched in June of this year, the Te Pari Patesco docking iron sears and removes the tail and stretches the woolly skin producing a bare area on the top of the tail.
Te Pari products managing director Doug Blampied - who was initially contacted by Australian Wool Innovation in 2005 to design a mulesing “alternative” - said although it was still too early to gauge the impact, hundreds of docking irons had been sold.
“We have had a hot scissor iron in New Zealand since 1967, and Australia has had a hot scissor iron, but this one the operation is different as it has a rotating anvil system that extends skin on wooly side of the tail, cuts it, which causes it to recede back and leaves pink skin on top side of the tail,” Mr Blampied said.
“We approached the brief with a very open mind and have been very pleased with the level of response.”
With a number of Victorian stud and commercial sheep breeders trialling the docking iron, Mr Blampied said the feedback he had received demonstrated that it was applicable for a range of sheep breeds and age groups, but most effective on young lambs.
Asked to respond to calls to lighten the weight of the iron, Mr Blampied said it would be difficult to alter it substantially for fear of losing the heat retention qualities.
For East Gippsland wool growers Gregor and son Andrew McNaughton of Burong, who trialled the iron on 300 six-seven week-old spring drop lambs last week, the iron has been a success.
“I thought it would be cumbersome but the process would take five seconds, there is no blood loss, and is very easy to use,” Gregor McNaughton said.
Having made the decision to cease mulesing their 5,000 odd 2008-drop Merino lambs, Mr McNaughton said they were attracted to the docking tool as they were concerned about the difficulty in crutching un-mulesed sheep.
“As far as we are concerned with the wether portion combined with Clik this appears to be the solution.
“The ewes will still require additional crutching and more careful management.”
With mulesing the McNaughtons said they docked their lambs tail at 50 millimetres, but with the new iron changed to 30 millimetres and stripped around 3.5 centimetres off the tail.
“As far as we are concerned we are very happy not to be mulesing.”