After two years providing financial backing to sheep freeze branding, Australian Wool Network has handed back the reins to the business to developer Dr John Steinfort.
AWN partnered with Dr Steinfort, director of AgVet Innovations, in 2019 to fund and accelerate the commercialisation of the process.
According to AWN chief operating officer Rick Maybury the time was right to hand control back to Dr Steinfort.
He said now that the business has been capitalised and the process has successfully commenced commercialisation, Dr Steinfort can now continue to drive innovation in this area.
"Our journey with sheep freeze branding started with a vision to help commercialise Dr Steinfort's invention to benefit growers looking to move away from mulesing," Mr Maybury said.
"There is increasing pressure from consumers, brands and the supply chain to move away from mulesing, and sheep breeze branding offerers a transitional pathway for wool growers looking to make the transition whilst genetic improvements continue to be made."
Sheep freeze branding is an alternative to surgical mulesing using liquid nitrogen.
It has gathered a lot of interest recently as a welfare-considerate approach to improving sheep breech health.
Dr Steinfort said having the financial backing of another business helped get sheep freeze branding where it is today.
"Without the backing and support of AWN sheep freeze branding would not have been able to operate on the scale and with the efficiency that it does today," Dr Steinfort said.
A Melbourne University trial of sheep freeze branding was conducted in late 2020 with the official report expected to be released later this year.
Initial trial results showed no general setback to the sheep when using freeze branding.
Dr Steinfort said the research was critical to guide best practice in the wool and sheepmeat industries.
"I believe we, as an industry, want to get the best animal welfare outcomes, so it is important to have scientific documentation," he said.