Return on investment for dollars spent on electronic tags

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantCountryman
Merinotech WA stud manager Ian Robertson, of Kojonup, with KG Livestock Services principal Kelly Gorter and AgricUltra principal James Macfarlane.
Camera IconMerinotech WA stud manager Ian Robertson, of Kojonup, with KG Livestock Services principal Kelly Gorter and AgricUltra principal James Macfarlane. Credit: Bob Garnant

Woolgrowers at the Merinotech WA Open Day, held last Thursday at Kojonup, were told they could expect up to $3 return on every dollar invested in electronic tag technology.

AgriUltra Farm Advisors principal James Macfarlane gave a fair warning that microchipped tags wouldn’t make a cent unless the user captured the appropriate data and applied that information for the benefit of increasing farm profitability through genetic gain.

“Tags can be a game changer to speed up the sheep flock’s genetic gain,” he said.

“Other benefits of using tags are improved biosecurity, ease of management and labour saving alternatives.”

Mr Macfarlane said producers could get started with different levels of investment, including software packages, and the more sheep involved, the better the returns.

“I estimated a 1000-head flock was break-even in terms of scal-able returns,” he said.

“Efficiencies begin with culling the bottom performers on the bell curve, derived from the data collected, which would enable the equipment investment to be paid off in a 10-year period.”

Frankland woolgrowers Alex Coole, Jo Lange and Richard Coole.
Camera IconFrankland woolgrowers Alex Coole, Jo Lange and Richard Coole. Credit: Bob Garnant

KG Livestock Services principal Kelly Gorter said electronic tags could be mandatory in WA within two to five years.

“Most of the producers now using tags have said, ‘If they only started sooner’,” she said.

Merinotech WA manger Ian Robertson said through MerinoSelect data, the stud’s flock, with 31 years of full-pedigree recording, was plus 20 per cent for clean fleece weight.

“Over the past five years, we have concentrated on a pure Poll Merino flock,” he said. “We have made steady improvement in the DP+ Index, particularly number of lambs weaned.”

Mr Robertson said there was a need to lift PWWT if more lambs were processed locally in the future, upon a potential phase out of live export industry.

“Mulesing may also be an issue within a 10-year timeframe,” he said. “We are now in the process of re-figuring our own Merinotech WA index, which encompasses 20 selection traits.”

The Department of Primary Industries and Research Development research officer John Paul Collins invited producers to Katanning sheep field day on October 29 to inspect Yardstick Merino sire evaluation progeny.

“We will have the latest findings on breech strike and worm resistance and the findings from Murdoch University’s 2019 feed intake trial,” he said.

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