To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will make a statement on the commercial use of melatonin in lamb production.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring substance which controls the ovulation cycle in ewes. Products containing melatonin can be administered to ewes to enable them to be mated earlier in the season before the usual peak of reproductive activity. Melatonin is classified as a veterinary medicine and all products containing it must be licensed under the Medicines Act 1968 before they can be made commercially available. One such product has been licensed, following a rigorous scrutiny of its efficacy, quality and safety, including safety to the animal. Melatonin is available on prescription only and must be used under the direction of a veterinary surgeon.The Farm Animal Wefare Council is currently undertaking a study of the sheep industry. It will offer advice to the Government on the welfare of sheep and is expected to consider the use of substances such as melatonin. The results of the study are due by the end of the year.