Elec­tronic tags prove to be ben­e­fi­cial for sheep pro­ducer

North East & Goulburn Murray Farmer - - NEWS - By JODIE FLEM­ING

COLEDALE Poll Dorset stud prin­ci­pal Wal­lace Bin­nie has been us­ing elec­tronic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tags (eID) on his sheep for the past three years and said he is re­ally start­ing to see the ben­e­fits of hav­ing all the prog­eny and breed­ing in­for­ma­tion re­quired to make com­mer­cial de­ci­sions in­stantly with the “wave of a wand”.

The Bungeet-based farmer has been breed­ing Poll Dorsets since 1969 on his 385 hectare prop­erty which also is oc­cu­pied with cat­tle and crops.

The de­ci­sion to use eIDs was en­cour­aged by Mr Bin­nie’s daugh­ter Kristy Tay­lor who now as­sists in run­ning the farm and sug­gested us­ing the tags “to help move the stud into the fu­ture”.

Mr Bin­nie said that for ease of data col­lec­tion, record­ing and the day-to­day han­dling of sheep has proved much eas­ier us­ing the tag­ging sys­tem.

“From a com­mer­cial sense it is a won­der­ful as­set to our stud as we are just able to wave a wand over the stock and know their back­ground, prog­eny and breed­ing,” he said.

“I think it is a great thing for trace­abil­ity and for any­one who is do­ing per­for­mance record­ing like we do.

“We take data sev­eral times per year – we weigh at birth, at wean­ing and at post wean­ing and many other times we are record­ing weights, so us­ing the sys­tem lets us know which ewe is per­form­ing or not.

“It is much quicker for culling and know­ing which ewes to keep and with our rams, af­ter we have vis­ually se­lected them first, we can then scan them and see which ones have about the same in­dex and you can lot them to­gether for sale.

“It has been a re­ally good step for­ward,” Mr Bin­nie said.

As of Jan­uary 1, 2017, sheep and goats born in Vic­to­ria will re­quire an elec­tronic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tag in a re­cent move an­nounced by Vic­to­rian Min­is­ter for Agri­cul­ture Jaala Pul­ford.

The iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tag will be linked to the Na­tional Live­stock Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem (NLIS) be­fore be­ing dis­patched to a sa­le­yard, abat­toir or an­other prop­erty.

Vic­to­ria’s chief ve­teri­nary of­fi­cer Charles Milne said the aim is to make sure the tran­si­tion to elec­tronic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion over the com­ing years is as smooth as pos­si­ble for pro­duc­ers.

“There will be a phased im­ple­men­ta­tion for elec­tronic iden­ti­fi­ca­tion start­ing with con­sul­ta­tion across the sheep and goat in­dus­tries on how we can make this work prac­ti­cally across the en­tire sup­ply chain,” he said.

“Once the im­ple­men­ta­tion stan­dards are con­firmed, Agri­cul­ture Vic­to­ria will co-or­di­nate in­for­ma­tion ses­sions and work­shops to help farm­ers un­der­stand the sys­tem, and where ap­pro­pri­ate, to use it to en­hance on­farm de­ci­sions.”

Dr Milne added that pro­duc­ers should not rush into any pur­chases now and should wait to find out what fund­ing and in­for­ma­tion will be avail­able in the next few weeks.

The State Gov­ern­ment has made a com­mit­ment to keep the costs for farm­ers neu­tral for the first year of the change with two sup­pli­ers of eID tags hav­ing al­ready dropped their prices.

Allflex has re­duced the price of its elec­tronic RapIDTag to 89 cents and Data­mars has re­duced its FET tag to 80 cents, while also re­duc­ing the price of its cat­tle tags to 82 cents.

The cheap­est elec­tronic tag cur­rently avail­able is man­u­fac­tured by Vic­to­rian-based sup­pli­ers Leader Prod­ucts and costs 77 cents.

Mr Bin­nie said the use of eIDs is cost ef­fec­tive as it saves time by not hav­ing to man­u­ally check each and ev­ery sheep.

“As an in­dus­try it’s not any more dif­fi­cult to have the elec­tronic tags as you have to tag them in the ear any­way.

“For is­sues like foot and mouth dis­ease and for trace­abil­ity of stock it is very cost ef­fec­tive.

“Cat­tle al­ready have it and I’m not sure why other states haven’t em­braced it yet, but surely it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore they do,” he added.

PHASED IM­PLE­MEN­TA­TION: Work­shops will be run to help farm­ers un­der­stand the eID sys­tem.

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