Welsh Sheep 2009: EID gear makers questioned

Farmers attending the event had the chance to quiz all main electronic identification equipment makers, and members of a breeding group that uses it.

The CAMDA Welsh Mountain Sheep Improvement Scheme, established in 1974 and based at a farm neighbouring the unit that hosted the event, is involved in a Welsh Assembly evaluation of EID systems. It produces high genetic merit rams for its 10 members and sells about 40 fully performance-recorded rams a year to non-members.

Group secretary Cyril Lewis, who runs more than 400 of his own ewes at Pen y Bryn, Penmachno, said members hoped EID would be an ideal way of monitoring the breeding programme when they started using it six years ago.

About 900 lambs were tagged at birth each year and this ought to allow a full range of data to be recorded and transferred to a computer.

“We have found the tags stay in pretty well,” Mr Lewis said. “But until we were provided with a good, but expensive, hand-held reader by the Welsh assembly there were accuracy and durability issues with some of the equipment.”

“When there are problems EID can be frustrating and result in a lot more rather than less work. I am certainly worried about the impact of compulsory individual sheep identification on my own farm.”

Jonathan Barber, NSA chairman, said the organisation would continue to oppose the EID regulation. But he warned producers that they must prepare themselves for probable implementation.

Lord Plumb, NSA president, claimed other countries that had supported compulsory EID, not realising the impact it would have on countries like Wales, were waking up to the difficulties it would create for flocks right across Europe.