Electronic ID promises huge efficiency gain

As a member of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) Traceability Design Board, we’ve been looking at how industry could mandate the introduction of bovine electronic identification (EID) tagging alongside the introduction of a new replacement database to record animal movement history.  

Digital reporting and recording and EID for cattle have the potential to drive the single biggest efficiency gain for Defra and the supply chain. Paper-based systems can be clunky, whereas EID would allow almost real-time digital data recording, improving health and safety on farms, at processing sites and markets, thus reducing costs and errors.

However, the potential to link real-time movement history to management data is where the big wins will come – such as assurance status, lifetime medicine history, feedback from processors on inspection, and classification data to finishers and rearers, driving productivity gains.

The challenge is how we introduce EID. A phased approach would see calves registered at a point in time EID-identified, removing the need for a cattle passport; the tag would ‘talk’ in real time to the database containing the animal’s movement history, the date and holding of birth, breed, sex and dam ID. Further phases would see EID-identification of animals that move off the holding. The aim would be to keep the transitional period short so the benefits of EID are realised by all.

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