Compared to a survey carried out in 2005, New Zealand farmers appear to be docking fewer lamb tails flush (6% vs. 22%) and docking a greater number of lamb tails at 4-7 cm length (32% vs. 16%). The main reasons for docking were to minimize fly strike risk, reduce accumulation of dags and keep the crutching costs down. Farmers who docked lamb tails to a shorter length (3-4 cm) gave significantly (P<0.05) more importance to minimizing fly-strike, reducing the likelihood of dags and reducing the cost of crutching than any other reason. Farmers who docked lamb tails at a longer length (4-7 cm) gave significantly (P<0.05) more importance to meeting the processor requirements, minimizing euthanasia from uterine prolapse and minimizing fly-strike risk than any other reason. When farm performance characteristics, that may influence decisions relating to tail docking practices, were prioritised by farmers, preferences for minimizing deaths from fly-strike, improving weaning weight and making more money from the processor were greater than having fewer dag events, less euthanasia from rectal prolapses and less stress for the lamb at docking. These preferences did not differ among farmers that dock tails at different lengths or leave them intact.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 75, Dunedin, 210-214, 2015
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