A NEW DESIGN of race and reader for electronically identified sheep, to cope with a throughput of 600-plus sheep an hour and with any type of chip, respectively, were revealed at Smithfield.

The race is designed to hold sheep while they are weighed and the ID micro-chip is read, explains Richard Webber of Shearwell Data, which developed it with markets and abattoirs in mind. This version holds sheep until it has a positive identification.

“Electronic identification cannot work without stopping every sheep. This ensures 100% guaranteed traceability. When there is no electronic ID device the gate won”t open until someone reads the sheep”s tag and keys in the number,” he said.

This first version can weigh and read up to 600 sheep an hour and draft them five ways. Mr Webber hopes to improve this to nearer 1000 an hour in future. The race is controlled by the new reader.

“The reader is the only one that can read all 23 approved electronic ID chips.” Previously, there was no reader that could read the chips which work on two different technologies – full duplex and half duplex – and the two could not be operated in the same building due to interference.