As early as 1992 Shearwell Data Ltd began participating in electronic ID trials around the country. These trials involved not only different devices, but also different species. As a result of involvement in these and many other trials, the company has expanded its knowledge of what works best. Hands-on experience in day-to-day, on-farm operation of our systems not only ensures that Shearwell solutions are fully tried and tested but also that they undergo continuous development.
Below are some of the trials and projects we have been involved in:
as well as many more.
Six farms using implanted transponders, ruminal bolus and a range of readers and recording equipment. Over 50,000 sheep were identified during the trial.
The South West Sheep Management Group (SWSMG) was set up in 1996 to explore Electronic Identification (EID) in sheep. The five farmers who joined the SWSMG represented a cross section of pedigree, hill, marginal and LFA (Less Favoured Area) farms. The trial was formed to evaluate the use of EID and also to set parameters that would allow such research to be of help for the UK to use when comparing with the IDEA trials into electronic identification that were taking place in Europe.
The aims of the project were:
The EQBPG was established in 1998 and was funded through Exmoor LEADER. The project had the following aims:
There were two phases to the project. Phase I had seven farmer members, encompassing 2,784 ha of Exmoor and 1,486 beef cows and followers were administered with ruminal bolus in year one. Five further members were recruited for Phase II.
The key component of the trail was the HDX ruminant bolus. In parallel with the RF device in the animal, the equipment and software for the collection and storage of the data also formed part of the trial. This comprised:
The main use of the EID systems was when handling cattle for weighing or routine treatment. A further time saving became apparent on those farms under restriction due to Bovine Tuberculosis. The requirement for repeated handling for testing was made less onerous by the ease of identification of cattle as they entered the crush. A time trial established an improvement in recording time of over 100% compared to manual handling and recording. Software was written to transfer data to the SVS with TB test details.
A noticeable, but as yet unquantifiable, reduction in stress on the animals was noted as the operator did not have to ascertain identity from the ear tag.
The enhancement in apparent welfare of the animal and the reduction in the labour required for routine handling procedures are key positive benefits of the trial.
1. FarmWorks Software - Software written By Shearwell Data Ltd was used and data collected on the Handheld Stock Recorder was uploaded to the program for greater analysis. Although the program did not cater for dairy needs, all farmers were able to analyse weight gain. Beef members were able to use the program to assist their record keeping with regard to statutory requirements. Members could use the program as an aid to management.
2. Handheld Software - members used the Stock Recorder to record treatments, weights, calvings / lambings and TB Testing. The software also allowed comments to recorded against individual animals and parentage to be viewed.
Ear tags were chosen by some as they were visible, because they could be the secondary tag and some members already had an in-and-out-of-parlour system in place.
The bolus was chosen as it was deemed to be more fraud proof and could be re-cycled.
One of the conclusions of the trial was 'The retention rates for the bolus device showed a significant improvement on the eartags, with no bolus being lost'.
The second phase of the trial involved five farms which bolused all their cattle and used FarmWorks by Shearwell Data as a management aid. The program allowed data to be sent from the farm PC to the market software via the web. When the animals passed the reader at the market and entered the ring, information on each animal was displayed on a visual display screen. All were supplied with handheld and static readers together with Stock Recorder Pros to capture the data.
Shearwell Data was involved in a three year European Commission Research Project to develop a double system based on electronic identification (EID) and DNA profiling for tracing animals and meat.
The aim of the project was to improve traceability of livestock and meat in practical EU conditions. This research and development project involved ten partners from five countries and is divided into two phases (research and implementation) and structured in three parts (electronic identification, DNA fingerprinting and validation of the system).
Other partners in this project included the University of Barcelona, the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission, German, French, Italian and Spanish Research Institutes and the Irish genetic testing company Identigen.
Shearwell Data ran all of the UK trials. The aims of the project were to DNA sample and insert boluses in 1,000 sheep and 3,000 cattle and DNA sampling and inserting transponders in 1,000 pigs. However concerns in the abattoir over food safety with injectables in pigs prevented this quantity of pigs being recorded. Only 50 were injected and recorded through the system. Delays in the arrival of retrieval and reading equipment in the abattoir meant that not all cattle were recorded from birth through to carcase.
The South West Livestock Pilot was launched in June 2005 and ran for 18 months. It aimed to demonstrate the uses and value of reliable, relevant and timely livestock data to farmers and focused on the capture and use of financial and physical farm management data. More specifically, it aimed to establish successful approaches for capturing data, transforming data into meaningful information and finally to look at how data can be used to improve farm profitability.
The pilot recruited one group of 11 sheep farmers in the first phase and an additional 12 sheep farmers in the second phase.
The majority of the farmers chose to use electronic ID as a the method to capture and record the on farm data during Phase 2B.
It is Shearwell's belief that the project has been a success proving that data can be transferred and used successfully to assist farmers in management of their flocks.
For a summary of the project click here