Farmer Focus: EID is here to stay, says John Bainbridge

John Bainbridge farms 600 ha (1483 acres) of rented MOD hill land near Richmond, North Yorkshire, along with 21ha (52 acres) of family owned land with his sons Lance and Reuben. His 1400 sheep, plus followers, along with 70 suckler cows are the main farm enterprise

An older and wiser farmer than myself once said, “Have half your winter keep remaining by mid-February.” This farmer leaves quite a few of us wishing for an early spring.

Whether we like it or not EID is here to stay. Somehow government officials have allowed this new regulation to be imposed. It seems another unnecessary cost to the sheep sector.

One major concern of this legislation is the disruption that may be caused at auction marts. It is yet to be seen how smoothly tags can be read without delaying proceedings and subsequently affecting trade. Only time will tell.

Our current issue is deciding which electronic identifiers, and possibly reader, to purchase. The retention of sheep tags can be poor. We have used the same tag on our stock ewes for many years with good results. However, at a price of £1.25 a unit, other options will be considered.

On the reader front we may invest in a hand-held one as a management tool. The misplaced idea of reading tags in a field, especially at lambing, seems improbable when the reading range of ones we’ve looked at is up to 20cm. In fact, with my glasses on, I could probably read the tag from that distance anyway.

Before Christmas trade for store bulls fell we had thought about castration but, after a good sale of eight 10-12-month-old stores at Barnard Castle, we shall stick with our policy.

On another brighter note, we just scanned the Swaledale ewes to the Bluefaced Leicester at 195%. From these 600 sheep alone we had 89 triplets and two quads. At the same time a sample of mule ewes were scanned at 216%. I think this spring we might just need to hire another milk machine.

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