Have a look at our latest infographic, which shows how electronic identification (EID) can benefit your sheep enterprise. This blog will highlight a few of the important points from sheep consultants and farmers who are already using EID. There are certainly more stories in the farming press describing real-world farming situations where EID is helping to improve the profitability of prime lamb enterprises.
Improving your sheep enterprise profitability using EID
Before starting with EID, the general consensus is that sheep farmers should ask the themselves what it is they wish to achieve through the use electronic identification. In the Farmers Guardian article “Sheep: avoid getting bogged down with EID”, Catherine Nakielny warns about potential data overload (or recording data for data’s sake). She advises using EID to only record data that is going to help save costs and improve output in commercial prime lamb enterprises.
This point on cost control is echoed by by a lowland sheep farmer in the Midlands Farmer magazine who runs 1250 commercial ewes. By linking ewes to lambs at birth via EID, he is able to rank ewes by their physical and financial performance and cull the bottom 5-10% – those that are costing the enterprise money e.g. persistent single bearers, susceptible to lameness or mastitis.
Catherine Nakielny also stresses that the two most important parameters to monitor are lamb growth rates and the weight of lambs leaving the farm – the enterprise output, which is one of the crucial drivers of profitability.
Monitoring lamb growth rates is also becoming an important tool in the fight against wormer resistance. In a Farmers Weekly article (10th April 2015), animal health specialist, Sally Harmer, warns against the routine drenching of sheep. Performance indicators like lamb growth rates will immediately highlight where there may be a problem. Any lambs achieving less that 0.2kg per day should be dosed, but those above this level may have good enough resistance.
Lambs that are EID tagged can be weighed quickly and accurately using an electronic weigh indicator coupled with a tag reader. Speed is important as weighing is a frequent task. If farm software is included in a farm EID system, the daily liveweight gain can be automatically calculated in real-time, and also saved to help with management planning back at the office.
However, an article about EID on the Farming Futures website, describes how the costs of EID – both the tags and equipment – are seen by many in the sheep industry as a barrier to using the technology. Some of the “standard” kit currently in use includes the Psion Workabout Pro handheld computer at around £1000 and various all-singing, all-dancing auto-drafting systems starting at approx £7000.
The article goes on to discuss how these issues are being overcome, describing the activities of the Wales TAG (Technology, Agriculture and Greater Efficiencies) project. Orchid is currently providing the software training services for one of the current TAG workstreams “Ease of Data Collection”.
The objective is to help Welsh sheep farmers improve their profitability through the use of the latest technologies, which simplify the collection and interpretation of data. This technology includes the use of touch screen tablet computers and smartphones, that are regularly used by other industries likes utilities and logistics.
Improving your sheep enterprise profitability using EID. If you are wondering how EID can benefit your sheep enterprise, why not download and print a PDF version of our infographic to aid your thinking. Alternatively, give Orchid a call today on 01536 443300 to find out more about our cost-effective and easy-to-use sheep recording systems.