Electronic identification (EID) can be a bewildering prospect for farmers who haven’t previously used technology to help run their sheep enterprise. However, with some careful research and planning, it’s possible to tailor a system that has benefits for any size of sheep enterprise.
Sheep EID – Benefits and Options
The need and use of EID can be split into two broad areas; the first to help you more easily maintain accurate statutory records, while saving costs (e.g. labour costs) and the second to assist you record flock performance data that will enable you make better management decisions that will improve enterprise profitability.
Maintenance of flock register and statutory recording
Remember that you are not required to purchase electronic tag reading equipment by law. If you are buying/selling fat lambs or breeding stock through markets and abattoirs that are registered as Central Point Recording Centres (CPRC), they will scan the sheep tags and give you a printed list for your Flock Register.
When it comes to maintaining statutory records, using EID offers a number of benefits:
- improved ease and speed of recording
- better traceability (for animal health or farm quality assurance purposes)
- more accurate records
- time cost savings (self or farm secretary)
However, as I mentioned in a another sheep EID update blog post, there is a growing consensus that farmers would best advised to scan tags as the sheep move on and off their holdings, even though markets and abattoirs may also scan the tags. This is really to provide “belt and braces” insurance so that the sheep are correctly recorded on the Flock Register and reported to ARAMS. Why this approach? because the farmer will always be held responsible for the accuracy of his flock register. Any inaccuracies found at the time of an RPA cross compliance inspection could result in financial penalties.
So what are the best solutions for basic tag reading? The simplest solutions involve just a “stick” or “wand “ reader, which have the following advantages:
- Enable you to easily reach into a pen or race to read tags
- Many stick readers can store one or more lists of scanned tags
- Can be connected to a small portable printer by cable or Bluetooth to print of a list of tags
- Some can enable you to download a list of scanned tags to a computer as spreadsheet file
Orchid is offering a range of EID stick readers on our hardware page Stick readers like the Tru Test XRS stick reader is a robust, water-proof device that is supplied with an easy-to-use software program that enables you to download a selected list of scanned tags to your PC or print from a mobile printer.
Sheep EID – Benefits and Options. Capturing flock performance data that will help improve your sheep enterprise performance and profitability
You may have come across sophisticated systems costing several thousand pounds that can scan sheep tags through a race and automatically draft animals based on selected criteria like weight. But you don’t need a top end system like that straight off. The best approach is to think carefully about your sheep enterprise and the questions you might want answering about:
- In-season lamb growth rates and finishing performance
- Dam performance across several breeding seasons (e.g. litter size, lamb carcass weight and grading, ewe longevity)
- Sire performance (progeny carcass weight and grading, lamb growth rates)
Monitoring ewe and sire performance by collecting data via EID means that you will be compiling data which can help you make better decisions on breeding policy from one season to another.
Sheep EID – Benefits and Options
EID will help you with lamb marketing decisions within the season. For example, if you need to produce lambs to a specification for buyers like Dunbia, EID can help you quickly record accurate weights. Here’s an example Orchid product that lets you use your Android phone wirelessly connected to a Tru-Test EziWeigh box and EID stick reader. As each sheep tag is read, the weight is recorded on your Android smartphone or tablet (via Bluetooth connection). If the animal has been weighed before, you will immediately see the calculated daily liveweight gain (DLWG). This is valuable information when drawing lambs for sale.
Why not check out Orchid’s sheep flock management software.
Tel: 01536 443300 Email: email@example.com