(SCHAUMBURG, Illinois) August 8, 2013 - Flies can be a real nuisance to both man and beast. But, to sheep, flies can be much more than a pest, they can be deadly.
In an effort to prevent the often serious condition known as fly strike in sheep, the tails of young sheep are often shortened to reduce the fecal soiling that attracts the blowflies that cause the condition.
A new video
produced by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and posted on its You Tube channel, AVMAvets
, outlines the AVMA’s policy on tail docking in young sheep. The goal of the video is to educate livestock producers, livestock competitors, veterinarians and the public about tail docking, why it’s necessary, how it should be done and what should be avoided.
“Fly strike causes serious suffering in lambs,” Dr. Joe Snyder, a member of the American Association of Small Ruminant Practitioners and immediate past-chair of the AVMA’s Animal Welfare Committee, explains in the video. “It’s a painful condition, and a sheep can die within three to six days of the onset of fly strike.”
The video, which includes footage of proper lamb handling and tail-docking techniques, highlights the AVMA’s policy on tail docking and explains the negative consequences associated with ultra-short tail docking, an unfortunate, but common, practice performed to help sheep succeed in the show ring. It also includes mention of some alternatives to tail docking that the AVMA supports.
“When performed at an appropriate age by well-trained personnel, docking of lambs’ tails is safe and nearly free of complications,” Dr. Snyder says in the video. “Because of its consequences, however, the AVMA finds ultra-short docking of lambs’ tails unacceptable for lamb welfare.”
The video, titled “The AVMA’s Policy on Docking of Lambs’ Tails,” is available for viewing, download and/or embedding.