Not for the faint hearted, pretty horrible really!

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by John Hill, Jul 21, 2005.

  1. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    The environment in which many sheep are raised in Australia is very harsh and sometimes strong measures are taken to protect the stock against the horrible suffering of 'flystrike'.Here is a BBC report on 'mulseing'.
     
  2. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Nowhere in that article did I see the word "Merino" so the public are being misinformed to begin with. The Merino sheep are the only breed in Australia (and New Zealand) that have folds of skin around the backside making an ideal breeding place for flies. The Romney, Cheviot, Perendale etc do not have it and are not subject to this operation. The article infers that it is done to all sheep and that is not so. Nor does it point out that is is only the folds of skin that are taken off, not the flesh, and that that it is done with shears designed for the job.

    While the idea of museling doesn't do much for me either, I also know it is a far better option than having sheep eaten to death, very slowly over a period of several weeks, by maggots. I should very much like to see an economical way of dealing with the problem but until that happens, I have to bite the bullet and recognise that it's the pick of a bad bunch.

    Spraying the area with some pain deadener is nothing more than expensively cosmetic and anybody who has dealt with severely flystruck sheep could tell you that. When a flystruck sheep is cleaned up and treated, the wool and damaged skin and flesh slough off leaving clean raw flesh. This in turn dries and then cracks - and it's at this point that it hurts as anybody who has ripped the skin off their knuckles will tell you. The same goes for mulsed sheep.

    I loathe and detest this type of article as it only ever gives half the story and it's the half that appeals to peoples sentiments. Most people will never have seen - or smelt - a badly flystruck sheep, never have seen the living flesh literally moveing with maggots, never heard them. And yes you can hear them, it sounds like water falling on leaves. They've never had to handle the sheep and clean it up. In fact they don't even know it happens so how the hell can they even start to make in informed decision.

    I also have little time for organisations such as PETA which are very good at passing on the information they choose to and holding back the rest. It is my opinion they would be better off cleaning up their own back yard before starting on somebody elses.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie
     

  3. Snomama

    Snomama Well-Known Member

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    Very well said Ronny! :soap:
     
  4. SmokedCow

    SmokedCow Well-Known Member

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    so its kinda like a body lift? Wow...neat..but no so at the same time. But i thought maggots only ate dead meat...Cuz they use maggots in England all the time for ganggreen They eat the dead skin but leave the heathy...Hmm..I learn somthing new everyday!
    AJ
     
  5. sheeplady

    sheeplady Well-Known Member

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    Ronnie is right. Flystrike is a nasty business. Twenty some years we never had a problem. Last year the first time , one of my Icelandic /Romney crosses got hit. We sheared her down, put her in a large stock tank and scrubbed her with lysol. After several weeks of handfeeding her and a course of antibiotics she did recover. The old skin indeed sloughed off as Ronnie described.
    So this year its worse. I have lost three so far. Today one was hit so bad we put her down. Last night she was fine. Overnight they hit. Thread like worms barely visible and than full blown maggots. And yes they do eat live healthy tissue.
    So what am I doing? Pulling every one into the barn, back on hay, and just pray the weather changes soon.The very hot humid weather has been devastating. I have CATRON , a fly/maggot spray from my vet that works great if caught early enough. But its just luck to try and catch it early. Who would think that this would be a problem in upsate New York.
     
  6. SmokedCow

    SmokedCow Well-Known Member

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    So does pouring the sheep help? Wow..Sounds like a crappy deal! What drives flys to do it? Is it dirty sheep?I hope ya'll get threw this!!
    AJ
     
  7. John Hill

    John Hill Grand Master

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    Hmmm! I suppose I should have spared a few words to enlarge on my opinion of the practice.

    To be frank I never considered the 'political' agenda of the writers of the article but rather raised it as an example of the strong measures that are sometimes taken where the environment is harsh.

    Now I cant imagine anything in the life of a sheep that could be more distressing than being eaten alive by maggots! Supporters of the practice are likely quite right when they say the short term pain give lifelong immunity but I wont accept this 100% unless someone can tell me that no sheep die from the procedure. One obvious hazard is that the raw areas will themselves get flystruck. Does anyone know the mortality/survival rates after mulseing?

    It is rather a long time since I have been associated with sheep and although the animals themselves have scarsely changed perhaps practices have. In my time the first line of defence against fly strike was to keep the sheep clean, tails docked to the right length and crutching as required. Have chemicals taken the place of these measures?
     
  8. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    I'm certainly no expert on sheep, but it does appear that those sheep were "mulesed" either shortly before or shortly after shearing. And doesn't shearing take place generally in rather cool weather, before flystrike would be much of a threat? Since it's a permanent solution, it wouldn't seem difficult to time it so the wounds from Mulesing would not be subject to flystrike.

    Also, couldn't you put some moisturizing wound dressing on that would keep the wounds from cracking as they heal? Still, those do seem to be awfully large raw areas. Ooowieeee!!!
     
  9. Ronney

    Ronney Well-Known Member

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    Mulsing is only done to lambs (NOT adult sheep) that are to be retained for breeding/wool production purposes. Any lambs that don't make the grade for these purposes and will be sent to the works as lambs, are not done.

    The procedure is carried out in cooler weather when the risk of flystrike is minimal or non-existant. About as many die from the procedure as do those that have their tails and testicles removed and chunks removed from their ears for ear-marking - in other words, bugger all in comparison to the thousands that would die a horrible death if mulsing wasn't done. As I said earlier, it isn't a good option but the best of a bad bunch. Laura, Australia quite literally runs thousands of sheep over thousands of acres. Their sheep stations are absolutely huge to the point where the mustering of cattle and sheep is done by helicopter. The reason for this is that often the land will only graze 1 sheep to the acre and it is nothing for these stations to be 20,000 acres in size or larger. As you can imagine, the logistics of dealing with stock is incredible - and yet Australia produces some of the finest Merino wool in the world. And America is one of it's biggest buyers which is why PETA chose to home in there and then follow up with New Zealand.

    The best way to deal with flystrike is prevention. So why don't the Australian Merino farmers do it? It has to be done every year, and it is costly in terms of both the preventative measures and manpower when dealing with that many sheep over that many acres. Nor am I too sure that it would work for the Merino as their skin and wool makeup is quite different to most breeds. But I digress.

    In an earlier thread I mentioned that I use a pour-on preventative and this afternoon I checked it out. One I have used is Zapp, manufactuered by Bayer, the other is Flypel manufactured by Ancare. Both are excellent. It involves bringing in every sheep you own, pouring the stuff down their backs plus a squirt around their bums, and letting them back out to pasture. No more worries about flystrike. The treatment lasts about 6 weeks and covers lice, ked and fly. I'm sure you must be able to get something similar although it may be under a different trade name but if your farm supply dealer can't help, get in touch with the likes of Bayer or Ancare who should at least be able to point you in the right direction. There are also saturation sprays available that do the same thing but it's a few years since I've used them and I've forgotten the names. Not as easy as a pour-on but can be done with a garden sprayer.

    Sheeplady, please don't knock over any more of your sheep because they have strike. They will recover although it may take some time. Let your sheep back on to grass but bring them in and check them every day. There are some indications that sheep are having a problem. If it is standing with it's head down and nose about 1" above the ground, suspect trouble. Constant shaking of the head, stamping of feet and sitting down and standing up are all signs of a sheep in distress. Sheep don't have to be dirty to encourage fly. Wet, warm wool is enough so try to have all sheep shorn at the beginning of summer so there is less to attract them. Look for dark stains running down the side of the sheep or across the the top of the tail - this is indicative of strike. If you do find a sheep with strike, clip all the wool back until you hit clean wool then spray the infected area with diluted Asuntol or household disinfectant. If nothing else is available, you can use warm salted water. Put the sheep in sunny, windy paddocks if possible - flys don't like wind and maggots don't like sun.

    Cheers,
    Ronnie