10.5 Sheep dentistry, including tooth trimming
The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) opposes tooth trimming, tooth clipping or tooth grinding in sheep. These procedures cannot be justified or recommended because they have not been shown to benefit the welfare or productivity of the animal.
Tooth clipping involves the severing of all the incisor teeth just above the gum line, using a variety of cutting instruments.
Tooth grinding and tooth trimming occur when an angle grinder, fitted with a cutting disc, is used to reduce and level the incisor teeth.
These procedures were being recommended by certain sections of the sheep industry because of perceived benefits to animal production. However, a number of field trials in a range of locations have been unable to demonstrate any benefit to the welfare of individual animals or to animal production. A large trial involving over 40 900 ewes in Victoria and southern New South Wales showed no effect on productivity of treated ewes except for a 2.6 per cent reduction in greasy fleece 7–11 months after treatment and a 2.3 per cent reduction in body weight of tooth-trimmed ewes 2–5 months after treatment (Williams 1993).
- Williams A (1993). Evaluation of tooth grinding as a method for improving economic performance in flocks with premature incisor tooth loss (‘broken mouth’). Final Report, Project DAV 5, Wool Research and Development Corporation.
Date of ratification by AVA Board 14 May 2005