Dag Scores and Mean Crutching and Shearing Period for Mulesed and Unmulesed Weaners
Abstract\"Mulesed weaners had lower dag scores than unmulesed weaners at 4 and 8 months of age, but management and breeding also had an effect on dag score. Mulesed sheep at 8 months of age at any given dag score required 10% less time to crutch compared with unmulesed sheep but the dag score was much more important than whether they were mulesed in determining mean crutching period. At 12 months of age mulesed and unmulesed sheep were equally likely to require a pre-shearing crutch, but the unmulesed sheep required 36% longer to crutch. Mean shearing period was not significantly changed by mulesing although there were significant differences between ewes and wethers and between different runs for the same shearer and between shearers. Some sire mating-groups had a greater effect on dag score than the effect of mulesing or not mulesing although the overall sire effect was less. In one case weaner mobs run in different paddocks had greater differences in dag than between mulesed and unmulesed sheep. If mulesing is not used, then greater attention to reduction of dag development will be necessary to avoid increased costs due to longer crutching times and more frequent crutching.\"