Pain relief is now law when mulesing sheep

By Jamie Salter

Victorian producers are now required by law to administer a registered pain-relieving product when mulesing sheep.

The new provisions, which came into effect on July 1, have been introduced as part of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019.

The aim is to ensure better animal welfare outcomes for Victorian sheep and enhance the reputation of Victoria’s sheep industry.

Agriculture Victoria Livestock Welfare Compliance Program manager Rachael Holmes said only registered pain relief products for use on sheep by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority can be used when mulesing.

“Sheep producers are encouraged to seek advice from a veterinarian or animal health consultant regarding available treatment options for their own situation,” she said.

From July 1, infringement notices and fines can be issued to anyone mulesing a sheep without providing pain relief.

Fines of up to $496 will apply or, if taken to court, a penalty of up to $3304 may be imposed.

Dr Holmes said as with any agricultural or veterinary chemicals used on farm, producers should keep records of the pain-relieving products used.

“Full records of any pain relief products used must be kept,” she said.

“Details should include the product trade name, species/location of animals, identification numbers/description, the date the treatment has been applied and the dose rate used.”

Dr Holmes said Victoria’s Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Sheep (Revision Number 2) was also available to provide a technical guide for those using mulesing as part of a flystrike management program.

“If undertaken, mulesing should only be done as part of an integrated approach to flystrike management including crutching and shearing, good worm control, strategic use of chemicals, genetic selection of sheep and paddock grazing management.”

More information about farm chemical record keeping requirements can be found on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Details about the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019 are available at: