Effect on the breech and tail characteristics of Merino lambs of varying the duration of application of occlusive plastic clips as an alternative to mulesing

Aust Vet J. 2012 Aug;90(8):308-14. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-0813.2012.00954.x. Epub 2012 Jun 28.


Objective: The objective of the study was to determine the minimum duration of clip application required to increase the size of the perineal and tail bare areas and reduce breech wrinkle, dag or urine stain scores of Merino lambs.

Method: The study was conducted on a single farm in western New South Wales using 491 unmulesed lambs of a plain body type (9-14 weeks of age; mean (±SD) bodyweight 26.9 ± 5.0 kg; 82% wrinkle score 1 or 2) randomly allocated into 10 groups. Groups 1-9 included 39-46 lambs treated with the clips, which were removed at 1-7, 10 or 14 days, respectively, after application. Group 10 comprised 53 lambs that were unclipped, unmulesed controls. Visual scores, bare area measurements and bodyweights were assessed before and at 28 and 60 days following clip application.

Results: Clips increased the size of the perineal and tail bare areas if left on the lambs for a minimum of 4-6 days. The increases in the size of the perineal and tail bare areas were similar to the results of previous studies. This indicates that the clips performed as expected, despite the current study being conducted on lambs with a plain body type.

Conclusion: When used as an alternative to mulesing, clips should remain on lambs for a minimum of 4-6 days to effectively increase the size of the perineal and tail bare areas. Further research is required to determine the degree of protection against flystrike provided by the clip method.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry / methods*
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Diptera
  • Female
  • Insect Control / methods
  • Male
  • Myiasis / prevention & control
  • Myiasis / veterinary*
  • Pain / veterinary
  • Sheep / surgery*
  • Sheep Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Tail / surgery*