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MELBOURNE – The University of Melbourne has published the preliminary findings of pain trials which assessed whether freeze branding – a method of protecting sheep from parasitic infections – caused as much discomfort as the controversial practice of mulesing.

Though researchers say more work needs to be done, their initial results suggest that freeze branding leads to similar levels of discomfort to mulesing – the method of cutting away wool-bearing skin from the animal’s breech.

It further muddies the waters of Australia’s wool industry, which has struggled to outline a definitive stance on the matter due to its fiercely contested use by farmers.

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