Knowledge and attitudes are important factors in farmers' choice of lamb tail docking length
The Veterinary Record
BackgroundTail docking is common practice in the sheep industry to prevent soiling of the breech and flystrike. To ensure optimal healing after tail docking and reduce the risk of arthritis, perineal cancers and prolapses, it is recommended to dock tails equivalent to the length of the vulva. However, recent studies have found that some tails are docked too short (24–86 per cent).MethodsTo address this issue, this study aimed to identify key drivers behind tail docking length decisions. Two
... decisions. Two focus groups, phone (n=30) and online surveys (n=21) were conducted in regional Victoria, Australia to examine farmer knowledge of and attitudes towards appropriate lamb tail length and barriers to best practice. The focus group data were analysed qualitatively, and the surveys were analysed qualitatively and quantitatively.ResultsIn total, 57 per cent of farmers were classed as docking tails short. Short tail docking appeared to be influenced by unawareness of the recommended length and docking at a length that shearers approve of. Other potential factors included lack of knowledge of negative health consequences associated with short tails, importance placed on dag and flystrike prevention, and impracticality of measuring where to dock.ConclusionAddressing these factors in future education and intervention programmes may improve tail docking practice and sheep welfare.