It might be called different things depending on where you are located in the country, but be it tailing or docking, the outcome is the same – it is about improving the health and welfare of sheep and lambs. Removing the tail prevents faecal matter from accumulating on the tail and hindquarters of the animal, in turn reducing the risk of fly strike.
On 9 May 2021 new regulations came into force with the minimum length set at ‘the distal end of the caudal fold’, or simply put, where the skin folds meet the underside of the tail. It appears there has been some mixed messaging, however Federated Farmers Meat & Wool Chairperson William Beetham is quick to point out there is absolutely no ambiguity in what the minimum tail docking length is.
“The regulation is a minimum and there is nothing stopping you from having the tails longer. However, I would say please talk to your vet, tail docking gang and shearers to understand what the implications are around different tail lengths,” William said.
Whatever you decide to do with tail length one thing is clear, MPI will be actively checking tail length this year. If you remove the tail shorter than the minimum you could receive an infringement fee of $500 per animal.
The new regulation is also clear that a hot iron or rubber ring are the only methods that can be used to remove lamb tails and use of any other method can also lead to an infringement fee of $500.
Quick Facts – Tail Docking Lambs:
- Only lambs under 6 months can have their tail docked by a farmer (over 6 months must be done by a vet)
- A rubber ring or hot iron must be used
- Tail must be docked no shorter than the distal end of the caudal fold