The RSPCA was extremely disappointed with the recent outcome of the National Wool Declaration review saying it leaves wool-buying customers and consumers in the dark about industry practices and animal welfare.

The failure of the review to recognise alternative categories of ‘breech modification’ is a poor result for those wool growers who have done the right thing by moving away from mulesing and breeding sheep that are resistant to flystrike without any form of breech modification.

“With so many leading retailers and businesses already committing to only purchasing non-mulesed wool, the Australian wool industry had a real opportunity to grow those markets and support wool growers who are working hard to eliminate the painful practice of mulesing,” said RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer, Melina Tensen.

“Sadly, this is a missed opportunity and now these wool growers have no option but to continue to declare wool “NM”, which means non mulesed, and be lumped together with liquid nitrogen or any other method that modifies the breech.

“This means buyers seeking wool from sheep that have not been subjected to any form of breech modification will remain unable to identify suitable choices based on the National Wool Declaration categories.”

Adding to the buyer confusion, the “PR” or pain relief category, was changed to “AA”, meaning analgesic and/or anaesthetic, which seriously misleads wool buyers into thinking that pre-procedure anaesthetic and post procedure analgesia were used.

“This might suggest the lamb has felt little pain during and after mulesing and that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Ms Tensen said.

“The Australian wool industry has dismally failed everyone involved including buyers, consumers and producers who all remain none the wiser about the true nature of animal welfare and on-farm practices.”