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Breech strike practice change

Figure 1. Plain-bodied rams. Source: Deb Maxwell
Figure 1. Plain-bodied rams. Source: Deb Maxwell

by Deb Maxwell, ParaBoss Operations Manager

October 2015


The marketability of Australian wool will be dependent on progress made toward a breech strike resistant national flock.

This relies on more and more woolgrowers adopting new practices to prevent breech strike. Pain relief is an important practice, but it is only one step towards the long-term solution.

The long-term solution is to breed sheep with plain and bare breeches and low dag score (in regions where scouring is an issue) supplemented by appropriately timed shearing and crutching and chemical preventative treatments (get help using the FlyBoss Tools).

Chemical prevention can be a successful alternative if your flock is still susceptible with wrinkled breeches. Cyromazine products (first marketed as Vetrazin®) have been around for many years and offer up to 14 weeks protection. Dicyclanil (first available as Clik®) goes even further with 18–24 weeks protection. Yet over reliance on chemicals is not a good long-term strategy.

With lamb marking occurring now all over the country, review the visual scores for breech wrinkle (see Figure 1) and then take a good look at your lambs. When all the animals in your flock are score 2 or less for breech wrinkle and dags, they are quite resistant to breech strike.

Figure 1. Breech wrinkle scores. Source: Visual Sheep Scores, AWI and MLA
Figure 1. Breech wrinkle scores. Source: Visual Sheep Scores, AWI and MLA

Have your lambs become plainer over the last few years? How much further do you have to go?

In a single generation culling wrinkly ewes and using plain-breeched rams, lambs can be bred that are substantially plainer. There are numerous studs offering plain-bodied sheep with good performance, and a search on Sheep Genetics reveals these. Seek the right balance of wool and lamb productivity for your country and your management.

FlyBoss provides a great deal of practical and proven information to guide you on preventing both breech and body strike and increasing productivity, combining management, genetics and chemical treatments. If your flock has room to improve its level of resistance to flystrike, start with the FlyBoss Annual Flystrike Management Plans.