Electronic tags prove to be beneficial for sheep producer
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.