Numnuts on track for 2019 release

World-first technology to allow Australian sheep producers to safely deliver fast and effective pain relief to lambs during the castration and tail docking process is on track to be available to industry by mid-2019.

Numnuts is the result of a partnership between Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) and Scottish product design and engineering firm 4c Design, to drive improvements in animal husbandry practices and animal welfare outcomes.

The Numnuts tool incorporates a single action handheld device that dispenses a rubber ring and injects local anaesthetic to alleviate pain when lambs are castrated and tail-docked, known together as ‘marking’.

The technology has now been licensed to Senesino for delivery to the Australian sheep industry with a pilot launch set for 2019.

Lead researcher from CSIRO, Dr Alison Small, said extensive animal trials of Numnuts in Australia have produced positive results. 

“Detailed research studies have been carried out at the CSIRO Chiswick field station, and in addition, commercial trials were carried out for both Merinos and crossbreds on five commercial farms in Australia during the 2018 marking season,” Dr Small said.

“There was a significant reduction in pain–related behaviours such as the ‘tucked up’ posture, bleating and lying down when sheep were treated using the Numnuts tool, as compared with just having rubber rings applied.”