2018 June - Sedation of Rams for Shearing


The following information has come from the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia (SCAA - www.scaa.org.au), an association that represents the interests of the small businesses that contract shear much of Australia’s 74 million sheep.

In recent years the shearing industry has implemented strict procedures and guidelines to ensure that the industry’s working population goes home safe and sound each night. As part of this safety shift, the sedation of rams has become ‘standard practice’ and although SafeWork does not ‘mandate’ the specific use or practice of sedating rams prior to shearing, the overarching legislation to keep workers safe, would certainly consider not sedating rams an unacceptable practice given the ever increasing size of Merino rams and ‘meat’ breeds.

The SCAA believes that shearing contractors across the country need to liaise with their wool growing customers prior to the shearing of their rams. This process is to ensure that the appropriate amount of acepromazine is on hand to correctly sedate the rams prior to shearing. 

That said, over the past year or so, the SCAA is getting strong feedback that NSW wool growers are finding it more difficult to access the sedation drug from their local vet. This increased resistance of some vets being reluctant to sell the drug to their known clients, is resulting in some rams being shorn without being sedated.

Under the Veterinary Practice Regulation 2013 (sch 2, cl 20), veterinarians are able to prescribe and supply acepromazine (for the purpose of sedating rams) to the OWNER of these animals IF the veterinarian has either physically examined the rams or has these rams under his or her direct care.  The amount dispensed must be limited to that required to sedate the number of rams needing sedation and the veterinarian must be confident in the owner's ability to safely administer this sedation.

Whilst the administration of sedation is a restricted act of veterinary science the owner of the animal is considered an exempt person under the Veterinary Practice Act 2003 (s 9(2)), and is therefore able to administer this sedation.