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Flystrike prevention clips are applied to loose folds of skin in the breech and on the tail. Clips fuse the skin edges together. There is no open wound at any time during the process. After approximately one week, the clips can be removed to reveal a smooth scar.
While flystrike prevention clips are proven to reduce breech wrinkle and enlarge the bare area, they are less effective than mulesing. Woolgrowers are likely to use clips in conjunction with other management practices to reduce the incidence of flystrike in sheep flocks.
The University of Melbourne's Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC) assessed the animal welfare aspects of flystrike prevention clips.
The AWSC specialises in studying the behaviour and welfare of farm and companion animals and the influence of human-animal interactions on animal welfare and productivity.
The AWSC conducted two separate studies of mulesed, clipped and no-treatment lambs to gain an insight to the welfare aspects of flystrike prevention clips.
The research included comparisons of key physiological factors in the stress response such as plasma cortisol and haptoglobin levels, and behavioural and fitness factors such as posture, locomotion and time spent feeding and lying-down. Researchers focused on the period of time from 24 hours to several weeks following the procedure.
According to Professor Paul Hemsworth, Director of the ASWC, "the clip treatment has only a mild impact on the biology of lambs and thus the welfare risks are considered relatively minor."
Considerable skill is required to apply flystrike prevention clips properly. On-Farm adoption of the clips has been very low.
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