Royal Welsh Show: New TAG project improves efficiency

Farmers have improved lamb killing-out percentages and flock lameness thanks to an innovative electronic identification project launched to increase efficiency on Welsh sheep farms.

The Technology, Agriculture and Greater Efficiencies (TAG) project, showcased at the Royal Welsh Show, has given 80 farmers performance data on lambs they have supplied to the Dunbia abattoir at Llanybydder.

Individual ear-tag numbers are linked to lamb carcass weights and grades and detailed information on the specifications achieved by each lamb is fed back to farmers from the abattoir, via a central database.

The electronic equipment also enables farmers to monitor health issues such as lameness.

Project co-ordinator Sion Ifans, who runs 300 ewes near Machynlleth, needed to increase flock prolificacy to eliminate his need to purchase replacements.

He used EID to identify ewes producing two lambs and now only rears replacements from these. His prolificacy has increased from 158% to nearly 200%.

His killing-out percentage has also improved since he identified lambs that were under-performing. “Our killing-out percentage was poor and we discovered that these were related to lambs with daily liveweight gains of 150g. All of these were based on lambs with a R2 and R3L grade, which we were able to filter out, thanks to the information we had gathered.”

Mr Ifans said the scheme had encouraged efficiency and enabled farmers to make key management decisions based on information including the average weight of lambs weaned and the percentage of scanned lambs weaned.

Project director Huw Davies, who farms 550 ewes near Lampeter, said the new technology could never replace good stockmanship, but it represented another tool for farmers. “It encourages farmers to make informed choices,” he said.

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