Weighing up the cost of mulesing


Wool
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SOUTHERN Merino producers opting to not mules their lambs could face an annual expense bill of around $3 a head.

SOUTHERN Merino producers opting to not mules their lambs could face an annual expense bill of around $3 a head.

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Dr John Webb Ware told a Mackinnon Project seminar in Melbourne last week that woolgrowers running non-mulesed sheep in a typical high rainfall southern farm system, with 8100 dry sheep equivalents (DSE), should prepare themselves for a bill of around $19,840 per annum.

Dr Webb Ware, a senior consultant for the Mackinnon Project, said the costs incurred by extra jetting, extra crutching and possibly higher shearing costs, and reduction in wool value had the capacity to decrease business return from $6.03/DSE in the model flock with mulesing, to $3.58/DSE with out mulesing – a drop of 41 per cent.

“There will be a substantial drop in business return,” Dr Webb Ware said.

“How realistic this will be, will vary enormously. It will be less in lower rainfall areas, especially where dags are not a problem, and strongly influenced by current management, the local environment and genetics of the flock.”

The figures are estimates based on current management costs.

Dr Webb Ware said his estimates allowed for a wide cost margin.

In reality, the difference between the costs incurred when managing non-mulesed and mulesed flocks may be as wide as Merino versus cross-bred lamb (management).

* Extract from full report to appear in Stock & Land, June 11.

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