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Sheep Freeze Branding takes innovation to new levels

Taking innovation to new levels, AWN has joined forces with an animal husbandry innovator, Dr John Steinfort, to roll out a new technology which eliminates the need for mulesing, providing a transitional stepping-stone for wool growers whilst improvements in animal genetics continue to be made.

AgVet Innovations (AVI) is the progressive company which is offering Sheep Freeze Branding to wool growers. The patented technology uses a unique cryogenic process to create a plainer breech, make crutching easier and reducing the risk of fly strike.

Stuart Blair, an agribusiness professional with more than 20 years’ experience in product development aimed at meeting the needs of Australian farmers, has been appointed General Manager of AVI. Stuart is excited about his role in growing the brand.

“The interest in this technology is phenomenal. I have been on display sites over the years with different products, but I have never been as busy as I was at Sheepvention this year promoting Sheep Freeze Branding,’’ he said.

AVI AgVet Innovations Agriculture Vet Stuart Blair General Manager Sheep Freeze Branding Breech Health for Life

Stuart Blair, General Manager AVI.

The Sheep Freeze Branding technology will initially be rolled out across the Western Districts of Victoria and Southern NSW using specialised Sheep Freeze Branding dispensing units operated by livestock contractors and could see more than 40,000 sheep processed.

The process is the brainchild of Dr Steinfort and involves existing, independent contractors being trained in using an automated handpiece. The freeze-thaw cycle contracts the skin and the wool falls off.

“This one-off application uses a total skin depth freeze which deactivates the nerves creating numbness on the targeted site,’’ Dr Steinfort said.

“The animals then continue as if nothing has happened. The process can be used at lamb marking. Producers agree the animals jump freely out of the cradles, mother up and move readily back to the paddock without setback.  Producers continually acknowledge the unhindered weight gains, producing better weaning rates and survival.

“Research has shown these sheep produce nine per cent more wool than a sheep which has been mulesed using pain relief – evidence shows there are no setbacks from the procedure.’’

Weaners just after Sheep Freeze BrandingWeaners shortly after Sheep Freeze Branding.

AVI will be undertaking additional institutional studies with universities to further support the data obtained during Sheep Freeze Branding’s development with the technique having been in development for more than a decade.

Mr Blair said once the company had its initial contractors operating the Sheep Freeze Branding dispensing units the business development would focus on demonstration field days which would be held nationally within sheep population areas to increase the company’s geographic footprint.

“An important aspect of our commercialisation involves accrediting and training contractors in the key areas of industry best management practice and work health safety. I am looking forward to taking our Sheep Freeze Branding dispensing units to our customers waiting to use the technology. It is exciting to be involved in the wool industry, especially to be promoting animal welfare.”

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