National EID can only work if a central database is put in place, according to the operations manager of Australia’s National Livestock Identification System.

Speaking to delegates at the International EID conference in Somerset last week, Rick Beasly said it was essential to have a system to record movement information in real-time.

This would allow the location and movements of at-risk or dangerous animals to be identified immediately, he said.

Australia has more than 30m head of cattle whose movements are recorded to ensure full tracability and to check the health status if stock going for slaughter.

“Each move made by the animal is recorded in the NLIS database, whether that move is through a sale yard, direct to slaughter or to a feedlot,” Mr Beasly said.

The system allowed at-risk farms to be identified immediately and allowed neighbouring farms to be alerted to the possible risk, he added.

EID

Nationwide EID can work, but its essential to have a central database capable
of recording movement information in real-time, explained Rick Beasly

A crucial part in the system had been the country’s decision to only use one type of EID chip.

“This means everyone involved only has to invest in one set of equipment and avoided all the other complications of using dual frequency technologies,” he said.

And while UK auctioneers may be worried about EID slowing market throughputs, Mr Beasly said Australian sale yards had installed multi reader systems which allowed cattle to move down alleyways three or four abreast of each other.

“Additionally, while there is no need for sheep to be electronically identified, we have also developed alleyway readers for sheep which are capable of reading 100 sheep in 32 seconds,” he said.

Case Study: Ben Bennett, Cornish Producer

EID can work at a farm level, according to Ben Bennett, who runs 400 ewes and rears 2000 calves a year in partnership with his parents in Cornwall.

“I can honestly say we wouldn’t be farming livestock anymore without EID,” Mr Bennett told delegates. “It allows us to have complete knowledge of every animal on the farm and makes record keeping much easier.

“We also monitor stock weights regularly and can spot when animals are failing to thrive.”

He also claimed EID had made movement recording simpler and helped the family better analyse costs.

However, farmers at the conference questioned whether maximum benefit could be gained from EID in extensive systems where it was difficult to record dam data when lambing outside.