What Are The Benefits Of Sheep EID Tags?
Many farmers are doing away with manual sheep identification in favour of EID tags. If you’re still on the fence about whether or not you should make the switch you’re probably wondering what the advantages of this new technology are.
We’ve put together a list of the top 5 benefits EID tags provide progressive sheep farmers so you can decide whether they’re a good fit for your business.
1. More Accurate Information
It doesn’t matter how much experience you have or how meticulous you are about recording sheep data. You’re bound to make mistakes if you have to manually read, call out, and then write down visual tag numbers.
If the number on the tag is faded, covered in grease, or the lighting isn’t very good, you might read the number wrong. Or you might simply write it down incorrectly. These are simple mistakes that everyone is prone to making. Whilst a simple mistake, they lead to inaccurate sheep data which will have a negative impact on your business when you come to make decisions, not to mention the time you waste trying to resolve the conflict later.
EID tags eliminate mistakes and ensure all the information you collect is 100% accurate.
2. Save Time And Labour
Recording data manually takes a lot of time. This pulls you and your team (or your partner) away from other important tasks around the farm, and it also increases your labour costs.
Back when we first developed BreedELITE (in the late 1990s), EID was in its infancy and there was no option but to record tags manually. It was a full-time job for one extra person to sit alongside the race, or in the shearing shed to manually record the tag numbers and relevant data. How do I know? I was that person….
The concentration required by the person in the race to read the tags correctly was immense. As well as reading the tag this person was trying to do three other things, like drench, vaccinate and take a mid-side sample or do some form of visual assessment and wrestle with the sheep to keep its head up long enough to read the grubby visual tag.
As soon as we started using EID tags with readers it was a much quicker and easier process….and the person sitting at the computer was no longer required. I guarantee that you’ll save money on labour and will be able to run your farm much more efficiently. Not to mention your frustration levels will be lower at the end of the day.
Nowadays, the BreedELITE Sheep System allows you to scan a tag, find the sheep in the database, enter information from the reader or display data that you have stored on the reader or on a classing screen in your race. It even allows for automatic weight and other data entry, as well as real-time autodrafting on data stored in the software through the Smart Drafter.
3. Better Individual Animal Management (Precision Sheep Management)
As a sheep farmer, you know that animal production varies dramatically within a flock. So, you need a dependable system to identify which animals are excelling and which ones are lagging behind.
Being able to view the performance of your whole sheep flock at an individual animal level opens up new opportunities for you in the way you manage your mobs and make selection, breeding, and management decisions.
The days of running age-based mobs and accepting the average performance of that mob are gone. The best producers are driving their production systems forward by spending a small amount of money each year on collecting data on the things that are really important to their production system, and then making sure that they use this data to make better decisions.
EID tags make it easy to track the performance of each individual animal. From there you can quickly identify your top-performing animals and replicate that success moving forward, which will help you maximise your returns.
4. Better Breeding Stock Selection
Albert Einstein once said that compound interest is the 8th wonder of the world. Well, better breeding stock selection is the compound interest of sheep farming. The better decisions you can make about your breeding flock the faster your productivity will accelerate.
Recording data at an individual animal level allows you to make better breeding stock selections. While sheep selection still has a component of visual selection, simply looking at a sheep doesn’t tell the whole story. For the best results, you need to combine your visual appraisal with the animal’s measured performance and the measured performance of their progeny and relatives in the traits that are important to you.
ASBV’s and things like Rampower indexes simplify this process. With advancements in genomics, you can also generate an index value for your current commercial flock by testing a small number of sheep to quickly get a handle on how your animals rank against others in Australia.
For Stud Breeders, ASBV’s and rigorous data collection are essential. For commercial producers, buying rams with ASBV’s aligned to your breeding objective, coupled with some simple hogget stage measurement and tracking reproductive performance over time will likely be enough to dramatically improve your decision making and productivity.
By accurately identifying and tracking high-producing animals you’ll make better choices when it comes to breeding. This leads to better current and future production, which sets you up for success.
5. Industry Traceability
It’s not just farmers that benefit from EID tags. It also provides massive advantages to the entire sheep industry. For example, DPI Victoria has begun using the technology to trace certain animals back to their source.
This is primarily used in the case of disease. If a certain line of animals is found to have disease issues the NLIS EID tags make it easy to trace them back to the farm they originated from, thanks to the Property Identification Code (PIC) on the tag.
Better animal monitoring ensures diseases are caught and dealt with early, which helps uphold the reputation of the Australian sheep industry on a Global Scale.
Irrespective of whether other State Departments mandate the use of NLIS EID tags, it is likely that the major abattoirs will bring this in due to the benefits available to them in terms of traceability and compliance.
EID tags are the way of the future. By utilising this technology you’ll not only run a more efficient farm, but you’ll also contribute to the overall success of the entire sheep industry.
Have Questions About EID Tags?
Want to learn more about how EID tags can benefit your business or how they support you to implement Precision Sheep Management? Contact us with any questions you might have. Our team will be happy to answer them for you.