Written by: Glen Brayshaw | Farm Business Consultant & Grain Marketing Advisor | 0437 704 613
• WA will align with the remainder of Australia by adopting Electronic Identification (eID ear tags) for sheep and goats on 1st January 2025.
• Early adoption is encouraged via a $0.75 Tag Incentive Payment Discount for this year’s Blue Drop lambs.
• Early adoption will avoid re-tagging into the future, plus allow 18 months of supply chain testing.
• There are ways to utilise the eID technology for flock management;
• Or keep it simple, upgrading to an eID to be compliant on any sales as sheep leave the property meaning business as usual until that time.
Whether you are cleaning up the back yard post new years, waking up fresh as a daisy as New Year’s Eve is just another night, or having a rest harvesting your new record 4.5t/ha wheat crop due to a harvest ban, come the 1st January 2025, if you are a livestock producer, new rules relating to livestock identification come into effect, with all livestock leaving your property requiring an eID.
Overall, the new livestock requirements are a minor adjustment to the existing identification requirements, swapping from the standard visual ear tag identification to electronic ear tags. The eID tags contain a microchip, read via a scanning wand or panel reader.
So what is this all about?
Electronic tag system
Implementing sheep eID will mean a lamb will have a year of birth coloured eID tag applied at marking. The eID tag will have the property identification code (PIC), stamped on it, and the historic pink tags will not be necessary when the stock move to a different PIC.
New owners will scan the unique eID number to record that animal coming onto their PIC on the NLIS database.
In summary, eID will mean:
The individual animal’s lifetime traceability will be available on the NLIS database.
1. A pink post-breeder eID tag is only necessary if an animal has lost its original tag.
2. eID requires only one tag for the life of the animal.
3. Electronic identification speeds up the tracing process by showing the life history of each animal and only the animals that actually came into contact with them or were definitely at the same place at the same time (e.g.sale yard etc.).
4. eID also shows which animals in a mob remained on a property and which ones from that mob were moved off a property.
5. eID can show gaps in movement history and errors (hopefully a hindrance to theft with individual animals able to be registered as stolen).
For livestock leaving your property post 1st January 2025 that were bred pre 1st January 2025, a yellow eID must be applied before they leave the property.
This leads to the offer from the State Government of $0.75 a tag to incentivise the use of eID tags in the 2023 Blue Tag lambs. The early adoption of the eID will assist the value chain in testing eID traceability, as well as producers not having to re-tag livestock (blue tags sheep) in the future once all sheep leaving the property need an eID (common yellow eID tag).
With all changes, there are some small hurdles to cross, but there are potential added benefits for you as livestock managers with the new tools at your disposal.
eID is great for traceability at an industry level, but the technology can lead to other benefits at your management level.
Improved flock management:
eID facilitates better flock management practices. By investing in technology to read eIDs, livestock producers can monitor individual animal performance, such as weight gain (auto-weighing recording scales and drafting), reproduction, and health, leading to more targeted management and improved decision-making. Data can be used to identify and cull underperforming animals, improve breeding programs, and optimise feeding strategies.
Enhanced flock productivity:
With eID, you can identify high-performing animals, track their genetic potential, and use this information to inform breeding programs. By selectively breeding superior individuals (rams and ewes), producers can improve overall flock productivity, efficiency, and profitability.
Market access and consumer confidence:
eID can enhance market access for sheep and their products. Future markets have the potential for strict traceability and quality assurance requirements, and eID can help meet these demands. It provides consumers with assurance about the origin, quality, and safety of sheep products, enhancing consumer confidence and supporting premium pricing.
eID systems generate a wealth of data that can be analysed and used to make informed decisions. By harnessing this data, producers can identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement within their flocks. This data-driven approach enables evidence-based decision-making, leading to more efficient, profitable, and sustainable sheep production practices.
But if you want to keep it simple and have no immediate desire to make use of the data, then you can take comfort that there are no great negatives in the implementation of eIDs for the sheep industry, you will be supporting the industry and helping position it for future improvements.