Benefits of EID outweigh the costs

While the UK may not be ready for electronic identification of sheep (Livestock, 3 February), an Exmoor farmer claims the benefits more than outweigh the costs.

Richard Webber of Shearwell Data said he used his EID tags on 1500 ewes at Putham Farm, Wheddon Cross, Somerset.

The tags cost about 75p each, although he hoped to reduce this to 50p as demand rose.

While this was a significant extra cost to sheep farmers, when used properly they could yield considerable cost benefits, said Mr Webber.

He records every ewe’s details on the EID database, including its progeny’s finishing periods, grades and weights, to identify which are the best ewes to breed from in the future.

“We are able to measure the value of feeding; we moved to feeding moist grains, which saved us £10,000 on a flock of 600 ewes, and the tags gave us the confidence to do that.”

Mr Webber admitted there were problems which needed to be ironed out, and said the government had to make some decisions to help move the industry forward.

It would take about 10 years to get EID implemented nationwide, but would be a great asset to farmers who chose to make the most of it, he added.