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EID as a Management Tool

SET Tag Electronic Tag in a lamb

In Scotland and England, sheep born or identified after 31st December 2009 have to have one electronic identification device and one visual identifier.  In Wales, sheep born on or after 31st December 2009 have to have one electronic identification device and one visual identifier.  EID devices (ear tags and bolus) must carry an internal microchip (a transponder) programmed with the unique ID of that animal, with that information also shown on the visual tag.  If the EID device shows the number 0826012345600001, for example, the visual tag will carry the designation UK0123456 00001. The transponder itself does not store management information but can be used with readers and data loggers that will capture this information. There are different types of tags or bolus on offer, both FDX B and HDX devices. (The difference between these technologies is how they transmit and receive signals from the reader.)  By law, all readers must be capable of reading both technologies.

How the technology works

Transponders are passive and have no battery; they are energised by the reader and in turn transmit the unique number back to the reader. The distance from which they can be read depends on the type of reader - whether it is a handheld reader or a race reader – and  the minimum distance has been defined in EU legislation for both transponders and readers.  All readers have to be certified.

Taking advantage of the information

Individual recording of livestock brings many benefits for both the pedigree and the commercial farmer, and EID is an accurate, reliable and fast method of data collection.

At the minimum, EID allows you to comply with the regulation.  But the real benefits accrue when you begin to use the information you have stored to make informed management decisions. Starting from simple lists of animals and working up to full management data you have the power to analyse which animals are most productive and which should be culled.

More data than you can shake a stick at!

Using the Psion Walkabout Pro to view animal information

Shearwell Data has been at the forefront of developing tools and applications for accessing and using this data effectively. Our most popular device is the easy-to-use handheld Stock Recorder that will read electronic transponders but which also allows UK or management tag numbers to be entered manually. It features an internal reader and can also be linked by Bluetooth (wirelessly) to race readers and weighing systems to provide a totally hands-free recording solution. With a touch screen, it is extremely versatile and has a large memory capable of holding up to 500,000 animal records. This includes, for example, the capture, storage and viewing of stock information such as progeny, weight history, movement history, treatment history, comments and animal details.

Shearwell Stick Reader

It is important that your data logger lets you record multiple actions on large numbers of sheep without needing to upload and download to your PC between batches.

So what else can you record? What about calving or lambing treatments, TB testing information, tupping or service, pregnancy scanning, movements and weights (daily weighing, 8 week, 21 week and wean weights). You can also draft animals, count them and put them into management groups. Multiple actions can be recorded with a single read.

Or you could choose to record traits at lambing / calving time such as lambing / calving ease, milk at birth, lamb / calf vigour and mothering ability. (Defaults of your preferred parameters can be saved to speed up the recording process.)

Creating a link at birth (or shortly after) between the dam and the progeny is important for both the pedigree and commercial farmer and with accurate records the quality of the analysis is improved. You can see which animals perform well or otherwise - which have had a single lamb for two or three years running and which have two or more. Using the keyboard you can also enter free comments on individual animals and these will appear the next time the animal is handled and will automatically be added to the animal's individual records in the farm management software.

Bringing field and office closer together

Having this capability out in the field on a rugged and easy-to-use device has many advantages. Use it to remind you of key tasks or notes you have taken previously. And what you observe and the treatments you make out in the field are then visible to you in the office. Recording individual treatments and movements is effortless and far more accurate than manually recording using EID. Official medicine books and holding registers are populated automatically via the Stock Recorder and Farm Management Software. And on-farm inspections are speeded up significantly.

Recording weights using EID saves time and is highly accurate. The Shearwell system is fully integrated, capturing weight information through an electronic weigh head on the crate and sending it to the farm management software via the Stock Redcorder. This displays the current weight and stores the full weight history of the animal. The last three weights and capture dates are also displayed. Back in the office, your PC will generate reports showing daily live-weight gain and you can group by individual sires/dams or by source and give comparisons between sires, breeds and groups

Carcass information

The capabilities of the system also allows carcass information captured by readers at abattoirs to be recorded against individual tag numbers and returned to the producer. This information has great value not only for the commercial farmer, but also for the terminal sire breeder, especially if this can be linked back to sires, breeds and ram producers.

The Psion Walkabout Pro with drafting crate Using the Stock Recorder and the Farm Management Software, Shearwell Data allows you to draft animals by weight, management group, Scrapie genotype, gender, breeds, cull reasons, breeding lines and many more criteria including the selection of ewes by the number of lambs produced or by selecting lambs that were one of a double etc.. Fast, accurate identification of each individual animal presents so many management options.

EID can also be used to draft animals using existing manual or automatic drafting crates. When you have decided and specified your draft groups on the PC, arrows on the Stock Recorder identify which way the animal should be drafted. The unit also contains a voice chip that can audibly inform the operator through headphones which way to draft when the animal is identified while an automatic drafting crate sheds the sheep fast and accurately without manual intervention.

Drafting using Bluetooth headset and Psion

Capturing the EID data is only half of it.  It is important that the software you use on your PC gives you the power and the flexibility to exploit the full management potential of electronic identification.  Shearwell Data uses the Psion TM and FarmWorks by Shearwell Data Limited to exploit this full potential, though we also offer basic readers for simply recording lists of animals.

For a detailed discussion of what Shearwell Data and EID can bring to your farming management systems, please send your questions by email to   or call us.

Accurate, secure data on your livestock

Whether you collect the data on your livestock automatically with electronic identification or you enter it manually using the Shearwell Stock Recorder, the data will be stored accurately in FarmWorks by Shearwell Data.

This data can then be backed up to the National Livestock Management Database providing a secure backup away from the farm.  This service is currently available to users of FarmWorks by Shearwell Data version 1.4.0 or later.

Click below to download the Shearwell Data Guide to Electronic Identification (EID).

The Shearwell Data Ltd guide to
Electronic Identification (EID)
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