Report highlights EID equipment problems

An interim report on the practicalities of electronic identification of sheep (EID) has revealed a number of problems with the new equipment.

The report, which was published by Hybu Cig Cymru and the Welsh Assembly Government, is part of a study on the difficulties and benefits of EID. It revealed that while electronic identification can make lambing, medicine and movement recording easier, there are some compatibility problems between hand-held readers and tags.

“Race readers have worked well with integrated lamb crates, making lamb weighing and recording much easier,” it said.
“Using race readers to quickly read a group of sheep, however, has been disappointing. Unless sheep are stopped next to the reader, then some will not be read.”

Other issues include delays in the supply of EID equipment to the 14 farms taking part in the study and complicated computer and sheep management programmes, which are causing “considerable farmer frustration”. Abattoirs also encountered problems with the electrical equipment, ranging from fluorescent light tubes to heavy-duty motors causing interference with the computer reading system.

The report was unable to include the experiences of auctioneers at livestock markets because they have not yet taken action to address the new regulations, which will come into force on 31 December.

Equipment used by the auctioneers must be 100% reliable if the regulations are to be met. “If all the sheep are not read at an auction, the local authority as the enforcing body will not know which sheep were missed. As a result, auctioneers and farmers may be prosecuted,” said the report.

The full details of the report will be published in October, and the report said that, until then, no firm conclusions can be made. The reliability of the equipment used in the test abattoir and the issues experienced on farms will continue to be monitored closely.

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