Chemical cut

2019-03-07 13:17:01

By Barry Fox Sheep shearers will be out of work if Biological Wool Harvesting of Sydney gets its way. The company has filed a string of patents on a biotech alternative to shearing (WO 99/9813-4). The idea is to use a chemical known as epidermal growth factor (US Patent 4 490 365), which weakens hair a few days after application. But if the wool falls off in a field it is no use to anyone, and the poor old sheep will get cold at night and sunburnt during the day. So the company has devised a coat of netting made in sections for the neck, legs and body. These slip snugly onto the sheep and hook together. The sheep wears the coat for three weeks after the chemical is applied and, when it is taken off,