Electronic ID could improve production

STAFF REPORTERThe West Australian

New electronic identification (EID) technology could improve meat and wool production in sheep enterprises, farmers were told this week.

Victorian-based Mike Stephens and Associates senior consultant Jim Shovelton told a producer meeting this week that the system improved the ease and accuracy of individual sheep measurement.

"Once measured, the data can be used to make more timely targeted decisions," Mr Shovelton said. "Provided data is well managed, the tags can result in labour cost savings for farmers using the system."

The small electronic tag can be applied at the same time as ear tagging he told the Department of Agriculture and Food's sheep update.

Mr Shovelton said the EID technology also enabled producers to match ewes to lambs as an aid to in-flock selection for high producing mothers. Tags helped improve accuracy of measurement in many areas including growth rates and fibre production.

"Producers and advisors need to think about where production gains can be made and look to see if EID has a role in facilitating the adoption of those technologies," he said.

He said before investing in EID, having a clear objective for the technology was crucial so investment in the right equipment could be made.

"The farmer might just want to count sheep, or characterise sheep by various characteristics that enable decisions to be made at a later stage, for example when measuring wool micron," he said. "There are a lot of opportunities but the use of tags needs to be driven by a production need."

Department sheep leader Steve Gherardi said EID offered WA sheep producers with the opportunity to improve the productivity of their sheep enterprise.

"The information is available which will allow them to quantify the benefits of the technology," he said. "However, it is important to know what you want to use it for."

Sheep Updates are being held across the agricultural region this week, including Merredin, Wickepin, Kojonup and Esperance. Supporting groups involved include the Facey Group, Southern DIRT and ASHEEP.

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