The reasons farmers choose to dock lamb tails to certain lengths, or leave them intact

JI Kerslakea, TJ Byrnea, MJ Behrent, G MacLennanb and D Martin-Collado - Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production

Type: Research Paper
Knowledge level: Advanced

Farm Table says:

This is an interesting paper, but of little practical use unless you are involved in policy making.

What is the problem?

This study looks at the prevalence of certain docking lengths, and the drivers for this choice. This is a study for New Zealand, in case best practice docking length recommendations become legal requirements. It is designed to go alongside research investigating effects of different docking lengths and to inform any industry decisions surrounding the issue.

What did the research involve?

An online survey was designed and distributed to New Zealand farmers. The survey included the following topics:

  • Farm information and docking length.
  • Reasons for docking choice.
  • Farm performance characteristics that may influence docking choice.

Farmers from the Beef + Wool New Zealand database were chosen. A mostly descriptive analysis of the data collected was performed.

What were the key findings?

Farmers who dock to a shorter length placed greater importance to avoiding fly strike, while those who docked longer placed greater importance on meeting processor requirements. In comparison to a similar study in 2005, fewer farmers are docking flush and a larger number are docking to a length of 4-7 cm. Minimising the cost of crutching and dags were also listed as important reasons for docking.

Final comment

Fly strike was the most commonly cited reason for docking. This may be important if there is a government or industry drive to change practices and docking needs to be justified.

2015 - New Zealand - JI Kerslakea, TJ Byrnea, MJ Behrent, G MacLennanb and D Martin-Collado - Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production
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