Cost concern on ear tags for lambs, kids
WA livestock industry groups have called for a full breakdown of the costs and benefits of Victoria’s mandatory sheep electronic tracking system before making any recommendations for implementation in this State or nationally.
Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) product integrity committee WA representative and Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) livestock committee chairman Chris Patmore was in Victoria this month to see first-hand how its processes were working.
All lambs (and goat kids) born in Victoria after March 2018 have to be fitted with ear tags that incorporate electronic identification devices (EID).
Saleyards and abattoirs have had to introduce tag scanning devices during 2017.
The system is designed to ensure full animal traceability and address potential biosecurity issues from farm to market, but does not have support from WA and national sheep industry bodies.
Opposition is primarily based on the extra costs and logistics of introducing such as system and a perceived lack of need to change existing processes.
Mr Patmore visited several Victorian sheep properties, saleyards and abattoirs as part of a SPA delegation to help formulate the peak industry group’s policy on a mandatory national trace-back system.
“We went to an abattoir that takes 12,000 sheep daily and saw 61,000 head going through the newly opened saleyards at Ballarat and it was pleasing to see the EID tag system did not slow down the handling process,” he said.
Mr Patmore said, with Victorian State Government subsidies as part of a $17 million transition package for industry, EID ear tags were costing Victorian sheep producers about 35¢ each in 2018. This would rise to 45¢/tag in 2019 and 55¢/tag in 2020.
“This is a significant input cost to farmers and without subsidies, WA producers could expect to pay $1 to $2 for EID tags if they were mandated here — well up from about 13¢ to 25¢ paid for visual tags,” Mr Patmore said
He said SPA had concerns about the scanners and tag readers handling big volumes of stock.
Ear tags with electronic identification devices are mandatory in Victoria.