Health & Welfare


Read about the International Wool Textile Organisation Welfare Guidelines

WoolProducers Australia is a member of the IWTO - the recognised international body for wool industry stakeholders since 1930.  WPA has recently participated with IWTO in the writing of a document called "The IWTO Guidelines for Wool Sheep Welfare" that engages with the 'Five Freedoms'.  

Further to this, Australia's States and Territories have localised rules and regulations to support animal welfare and prevent animal cruelty.  Industry also invests millions every year to provide producers with tools for excellent animal husbandry practice. 


Pain relief in sheep husbandry practices

The health and welfare of sheep is the number one priority for woolgrowers as healthy and productive sheep are intrinsically linked to a sustainable and profitable wool growing business.

The Australian industry, through its Research and Development Corporation, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) continues to invest in pain relief strategies for use by growers to address this issue. Through this investment there is ongoing research and development involving pain relief in husbandry practices.  Separate surveys of wool growers conducted by AWI and the Sheep CRC has found that the uptake of pain relief for mulesing is around 70% and growing.   
The recent rescheduling of Tri Solfen from an S4 (veterinary only) to an S5 (available over the counter) has seen an increase in use. WoolProducers Australia (WPA) believes that the natural uptake of growers using pain relief is encouraging, which is why we continue to support the voluntary use of pain relief.  
The use of pain relief is a an issue that has long been considered by WPA. Our current policy position is that we support the use of pain relief for mulesing.   Currently there is only one commercially available pain relief product for on-farm animal husbandry practices, which is only registered for mulesing (Tri Solfen). If, and when, other pain relief products become commercially available for on-farm animal husbandry practices, WPA will reconsider its pain relief policy.  
WPA is aware of the application made to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for the extension of Tri-Solfen for use in shearing cuts and supports this approval to be considered by the APVMA.   WPA does not support ‘off label’ use of any chemical product as it can have serious negative consequences for animal welfare.  If a product has not been tested and approved by the correct authority, in this case the APVMA, export slaughter intervals (ESIs) and maximum residue limits (MRLs) may be exceeded which can result in market access being denied.  We encourage growers to use all chemicals responsibly, avoid all ‘off the label’ use and consult your vet for assistance if any questions arise. 
WPA supports ongoing scientific research and development  in all areas that will result in positive outcomes for growers and the health and welfare of their flocks.

Emergency Animal Diseases

ILO Training and indemnity

During the past 12 months Animal Health Australia has been reviewing the Control Centre Management Manual. The review found that there was some ambiguity surrounding the role of ILOs in an EAD and that this would have to be resolved.

During this review period the Dept of Agriculture convened a roundtable (on 27 September) to discuss the future arrangements for industry in the event of an EAD. It was also agreed by the participants that further resolution of this issue was needed, including indemnity cover for industry representatives at both the ILO and NMG level.

AHA has given an undertaking to develop a new training program in the next 12 months.

An EAD Workshop will be held in March to further discuss this issue.

Exercise Odysseus

Exercise Odysseus is the name given to a series of activities throughout 2014 and into 2015 that will have a focus on preparing for and responding to a mock national livestock standstill called in response to a simulated outbreak of FMD in SE Queensland in August 2014.

The primary purpose of Exercise Odysseus, which is being co-ordinated by the federal Department of Agriculture (DA), is to test the nation’s preparedness for dealing with a minimum 72-hour livestock standstill and all that goes with it.

Every government and relevant industry sector is being asked to be involved.

For industry, the following actions are expected:

Given the scope of the exercise is livestock; WPA is planning to work with FAWO to conduct a national exercise with the wool industry to incorporate standstill arrangements for wool.

WPA envisages that this will require participation and cooperation with a range of wool industry organisations and at this stage is aiming to conduct this in September.

FMD Real-Time Training

The Australian Government Department of Agriculture has entered into an agreement with the European Commission for the Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (EuFMD) for the delivery of real-time foot and mouth disease (FMD) training courses.

A number of courses have occurred throughout 2012-13, with 80 Australian participants having participated in these courses. Given the success of these courses the department is in negotiations with EuFMD for the delivery of further courses for Australians throughout the 2014 and 2015 calendar years.

FMD susceptible industries were approached in 2013 with a cost-sharing proposal to co-fund further training courses throughout 2014-15. WPA agreed at their November 2013 to co-fund 10 participants on behalf of the wool industry.

After consulting with the Nepal government, EuFMD have provided indicative dates for the 2014 courses: two in May, one in September, and two in November.

WPA will be taking nominations for the May training sessions until the 12th of March and are encouraging interested people or organisations to nominate suitable people. Further advice will be distributed soon.

Endemic Animal Diseases

SheepMAP Review

A technical review of the SheepMAP has commenced. This is the first time the SheepMAP has been completely reviewed since its inception in 1997. Reviews of the manual have been completed in the past to align with changes in OJD management plans.

There are currently about 387 producers in the SheepMAP which anecdotally supply breeding stock to a large cross section of the sheep industry.

A Steering Committee comprising representatives from WPA, SCA, Stud Sheep Breeders Association, Stud Merino Breeders Association, AHA, Sheep Veterinarian Association, Federal Council of Agricultural Societies, independent stud and commercial producers, and the National JD Technical Advisor has been established to oversee the review.

GHD Consultants have been contracted to carry out the technical review which will assess issues identified in the MAP that have evolved over time due to research or new technologies. These include; maintenance of MN status through vaccination rather than testing (including a risk assessment of long term vaccinates); the role of abattoir monitoring in the MAP.

The Steering Committee is currently determining the most effective process to gain feedback on the technical review.

Livestock Production Conditions Pilot Program

The sheep industries have agreed that rather than focusing on individual conditions (e.g. OJD) that there should be an overall focus on endemic sheep conditions. This refocusing should also include a greater emphasis on biosecurity and associated communications. 

WPA and SCA have resolved that there should be a proactive approach to livestock production conditions rather than just a control or management approach focusing on one condition. 

Industry envisages that the Steering Committee would consist of representatives from industry, state government, LBN, RDCs (AWI and MLA), AHA, ALPA and AMIC and be independently chaired.

This broader overarching committee would be responsible for tools/ issues that apply to management of production conditions i.e. SHS, surveillance, RBP, communications.

Sub-committees or working groups will be formed as required to provide specific oversight of projects, i.e. the National Sheep Health Monitoring Project or to provide technical advice, i.e. OJD technical working group to complete the Standards Definitions Rules and Guidelines.

It is anticipated that this pilot will be initiated in July this year.

Animal Welfare

Standards & Guidelines

The Standards and Guidelines Reference Group met in December last year to resolve outstanding issues regarding the draft document.

The document was meant to be endorsed by SCoPI in May this year, however a number of decisions made by the federal government in December last year have left industry uncertain about the future process, these decisions included:

AHA, as facilitators of this process have been told to continue to progress the document.

National Wild Dog Action Plan

The NWDAP was initiated by WPA last year and aims to deliver a strategic approach to wild dog mitigation across jurisdictions.

A Steering Committee has been formed to drive this process, with representatives from across broadacre industries, researchers and government. This was done in recognition that wild dogs are not just a wool industry issue.

The goals and objectives in the plan have been developed by stakeholders and is an industry driven and funded initiative.

The process is in the critical endorsement phase and WPA has been meeting with state and federal ministers to gain support for this project.

Mulesing Unit of Competency

WPA has also initiated a process to develop a recognised unit of competency for mulesing. A Steering Committee was formed to drive this process with representatives from WPA, AASMB, LCA and AWI.

This was process was conducted to demonstrate industry being proactive in this area given that industry had successfully lobbied to have training and accreditation for mulesing to remain on a voluntary basis, which is reflective of WPA’s policy.

The Unit has been through the AgriFood Skills Australia endorsement process and will sit under the Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation Training Package.

WPA is in discussions with training institutes in the NSW and WA to deliver a ‘train-the-trainer’ pilot course.



ABARES is considering submissions from the recent public consultation into NLIS for sheep and goats, and are refining the analysis in the consultation RIS to produce a decision RIS that will identify the most cost-effective option for improving NLIS.

The Australian, state and territory ministers for agriculture will consider the decision RIS as part of their discussion on any potential changes to the NLIS.

Submissions from the consultation RIS will be made publicly available on 28 February on the ABARES website.

1800 675 888

The Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline is a toll-free number that connects callers to the relevant state or territory officer to report concerns about any potential emergency animal disease situation.

If you see unusual disease symptoms, abnormal behaviour or unexpected deaths in your stock, immediately call your veterinarian or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline