Alliance Group is launching two research trials in a bid to
understand the effect on lambs when docking their tails at
Docking, a common practice among New Zealand farmers, was
thought to help reduce dag formation and the risk of fly
strike, a major cost to the sheep industry.
However, there was limited objective information or research
on the benefits, or otherwise, of the practice, the meat
Alliance Group, with support from the Ministry of Primary
Industries' Sustainable Farming Fund, UK supermarket chain
Sainsbury's and Beef and Lamb New Zealand, is undertaking the
first research of its kind into docking in New Zealand with a
The first trial, at the Riverton farm of Alliance supplier
Euan Templeton, will examine the impact of different docking
practices or no docking on lamb growth, carcass weight and
The second trial, on two farms in Mid-Canterbury and
Southland, will study the effect of different tail lengths on
lamb productivity, economic return and the welfare of the
The aim of the research was to examine the productive,
economic and welfare effects on lambs by docking tails at
different lengths or leaving them intact, the company's
livestock general manager, Murray Behrent, said.
The results should provide suppliers with reliable
information so they could make informed decisions on the most
appropriate docking strategy.
"The current lack of objective information leaves New Zealand
farmers vulnerable to concerns from international markets on
the length of the tail.
"International retailers are now requesting evidence-based
information which can be used to assure their customers that
management practice such as tail docking are justified," he
Alliance Group and research partner AbacusBio would work with
tailing and shearing contractors as part of the trials.
As part of the research, a best practice booklet on docking
would be developed and distributed to suppliers.
The initial results were expected to be released in April
next year, and final results of the two trials to be
published in March 2014.