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Keywords:

  • animal welfare;
  • flystrike;
  • non-surgical mulesing;
  • randomised controlled clinical trial;
  • sheep

Objective

A multivariate analysis approach was used to evaluate both the effects of application of occlusive polypropylene clips to the breech on bare area measurements and scores of lambs, and the influence of operator, region, sheep, farm and environmental factors on outcomes.

Procedures

A randomised controlled trial using 32,028 lambs was conducted on 208 commercial wool-growing properties across Australia. Differences in bare area measurements and scores between groups were estimated and analysed using a mixed model to investigate the effects of operator differences, farm and environmental factors and the interactions among these factors.

Results

Clip-treated lambs with higher body weight at visit 1 had higher bare area measures and scores, but lower changes in dag and urine scores. Lambs with tight skin showed improved response in bare area scores and measurements after clip treatment, but lambs with a high wrinkle score at visit 1 showed less response to the treatment in their urine, dag and wrinkle and bare area scores. These effects of the clip treatment were not significantly influenced by estimated fleece fibre diameter, operator or region, but were significantly influenced by farm.

Conclusions

The effect of occlusive clips on breech measurements and scores was significantly influenced by body weight, skin type and thickness, wrinkle score and sex of the lamb, but not by region, operator or estimated fibre diameter. The clip treatment significantly improved characteristics that influence the susceptibility of lambs to flystrike under most conditions.