SPA supports voluntary uptake of tag technology

How ear tags are transforming sheep industry


Sheep Producers Australia continues to support the voluntary uptake of EID technology. Photo by Sheep Producers Australia.

Sheep Producers Australia continues to support the voluntary uptake of EID technology. Photo by Sheep Producers Australia.

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Sheep Producers Australia continues to support the voluntary uptake of EID technology.

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Members and partners of Sheep Producers Australia (SPA) recently embarked on a two-day trip to observe electronic National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) identification technology in use on Victorian farms, and in saleyards and abattoirs.

SPA’s policy supports the voluntary uptake of electronic identification (EID) technology, however, it is important to observe the system in operation and gain first-hand knowledge and experience from those using it regularly.

Representatives from all state farming organisations, bar the Northern Territory, and members from NSW Farmers and WoolProducers discussed and engaged on what has been a controversial topic.

WoolProducers’ chief executive officer Jo Hall said the trip to Victoria provided a chance to observe challenges and opportunities experienced by different sectors of the sheep supply chain since the implementation of mandatory EID.

The group visited Gordan Brown’s property, who utilises EID technology on-farm at Shelford, the new Central Victorian Livestock Exchange’s (CVLX) Ballarat saleyard and Colac based processor, Australian Lamb Company (ALC). 

On-site at CVLX, Ballarat saleyard manager Jonathon Crilly said the yards had developed their own software for the EID technology, with all information collected from agents via tablets and wi-fi. The information is then aggregated and uploaded to the NLIS database and office systems in a matter of hours. 

All EID tagged sheep and lambs must be scanned through electronic readers, with agents required to take remedial action where the read rate of a line of sheep or lambs is below 80 per cent.

This point of action will increase to 90pc on March 31, 2019, with the expectation that Ag Vic will move it to 98pc in future. The action level at which agents must act is not reflective of the accuracy of the EID system – all Victorian saleyards are currently reading close to 100pc of electronic NLIS tags.

At ALC, the introduction of EID in abattoirs had significantly simplified the re-introduction of carcases to their correct line after being placed on the retain rail for further inspection or trimming, ensuring accurate property identification code of consignment for each individual carcass.

In total, 24 Victorian abattoirs have received support for the installation of tag reading technology such as wand readers, carcass-tracking equipment and software. 

The minimum cost of a tag, as a result of Agriculture Victoria’s tag tender process and online tag-ordering service, will increase from $0.45 a tag to $0.55 on January 1, 2019.

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