Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Maggot Taxi's

Well, what an unfortunate nickname, but the poor old sheep just can't help it. They attract blowflies, especially if their backsides are covered in poop and urine, hence why farmers 'crutch' their sheep when it's not time to shear the whole animal.

Sheep have the personality of a wet flannel! Except, when they are lambs, they are energetic, skipping and jumping around the paddock with the other lambs, tails flapping. They are so cute and funny at this point, BUT they are a commodity, not a pet.

Later this week our Merino lambs will have their tails docked and will be mulesled. Mulesing is a very unpopular practice for the animal libbers and we don't particularly like doing it either, but, I would rather give them the best chance against fly strike that we can. Other alternatives are being trialled and would be welcome as long as they are cost and time effective for a farmer. I'm definately in favour of pain medication, but again, it must be cost and time effective, otherwise, some farmers with sheep will walk away from the industry, some already have, they will crop if they can or change their operation to cattle. But I guess that would be pleasing to certain aspects of the Australian community who see the world through rose coloured glasses.

If you have never seen a fly struck sheep, perhaps you should. The maggots dig into the sheeps flesh - they are actually wriggling inside it's meat, eating the sheep alive basically! As you cut away the wool to treat the struck area, you can see them wriggling and squirming into the flesh, it's cruel.

Being a person who has lived and travelled over most of South Australia, I have noticed quite a difference in fly populations. Many years ago I moved from Whyalla to Murray Bridge and the lack of blowflies in Murray Bridge was so significant, I commented on it to family and friends, I have always remembered noticing that. So I think sometimes many people have not experienced blowflies in the numbers we have here on our Eyre Peninsula farm and throughout a large part of SA. Some people have never been north of Gepps Cross!

We do have a paddock of 'killers'. These are the sheep that can't be sold for whatever reason and when we need to fill our freezer, we kill a sheep or two and that sustains us for another few months. Again, they are a commodity and you have to depersonalise the vision of a cute little lamb and see the end product which feeds our family.