Sheep stud sought for tech trial


A stud sheep breeder is being sought to test electronic identification technology and evaluate its value to their business by the Department of Agriculture and Food WA.

The 18-month trial is part of a Sheep Industry Business Innovation project to encourage producers to adopt new technology to boost the productivity and profitability of their flocks.

Department research officer John Paul Collins said the trial was a great opportunity for any ram breeder thinking about investing in electronic identification technology.

“The department will establish a mutually beneficial relationship with the successful applicant in the early stages, including paying for the hire of an electronic identification reader as well as enough ear tags to get started,” he said.

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“It will also provide a consultant to assist the producer to capture, record and apply the data generated by the technology.

“In return, the applicant would be required to share what they have learnt from the experience with other producers, including participating in a case study as well as sharing what they have learnt at field days.”

Mr Collins the trial would provide a valuable, first-hand insight into the opportunities and obstacles of adopting EID technology.

“The applicant will be able to use the EID technology to help collect whatever information they require to assist in achieving their breeding objective, whether they want to focus on wool traits, like clean fleece weight and fibre diameter, and/or meat traits, such as fat and eye muscle,” he said.

“As part of the process the breeder will also be introduced to the Sheep Genetics Australia program and how to collect data to provide Australian Sheep Breeding Values to their clients.”

A 2014 survey of WA sheep producers showed only 4 per cent were using electronic ear tags and 16 per cent were considering them.

“The current low level of adoption can be attributed to many factors, including the cost, lack of perceived economic benefit and a past experience of the EID technology being complex and confusing to use,” Mr Collins said.

“This trial aims to demonstrate that new technology and data collection can be user-friendly and simple to apply.”

Mr Collins said the adoption of EID technology was a long-term investment that could generate sustainable economic benefits to farm businesses.

“This project is far reaching and aims to illustrate the benefits of this technology, from improved breeding values to labour efficiencies to reduced costs,” he said.

“It’s not just about collecting data, but more about how you can use that data to increase business profitability.”

The $10 million Sheep Industry Business Innovation project is made possible by Royalties for Regions.

To apply, contact Ros Campbell at the department’s Katanning office on 9821 3219 or email roslyn.campbell@agric.wa.gov.au. The deadline for applications is 5pm, Monday, May 23.

Picture caption: Department of Agriculture and Food technical officer Nicola Stanwyck using an electronic identification reader, like that which a stud breeder will be able to test as part of a new technology trial.

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