An Australian research project has identified compounds in Merino sheep wool that are attractive to blowflies. This could help sheep breeders develop fly-resistant flocks, which would improve animal welfare and productivity.
The study—published in Medical and Veterinary Entomology—was led by The University of Western Australia with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Western Australia.
“This research is a step towards developing more clean, green and ethical approaches to preventing flystrike,” UWA’s Professor Phil Vercoe said.
“If future studies find that the wool odour is inherited, then the compounds we’ve identified could lead to a more effective way to breed sheep resistant to flystrike.”
This would improve animal welfare and productivity and address the financial impact of flystrike, estimated to cost the Australian sheep industry $280 million annually.
Dr Johan Greeff from the DPIRD said the discovery could lead to a simple test—based on the presence of certain volatile compounds in sheep’s wool—that determines whether flies will be attracted to the sheep or not.
This story was sourced from Rural News.