Cost con­cern on ear tags for lambs, kids

Countryman - - LIVESTOCK - Melissa Wil­liams

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.

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