PDS: Using eID to improve ewe performance
Did you know that that monitoring ewes with electronic identification technology can return a 2.5—5 return on investment?
|Project start date:||06 September 2018|
|Project end date:||29 January 2021|
|Publication date:||20 May 2021|
|Relevant regions:||NSW, Western Australia, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania|
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Monitoring ewes’ bodyweight and condition score gives producers the opportunity to improve production and welfare outcomes for individual animals, flocks and the industry as a whole. Electronic identification (eID) and its associated technologies are now readily available to producers, but many are unsure of how it can be best used in their commercial sheep enterprises.
In this Producer Demonstration Site (PDS), ewes were monitored through regular weighing and condition scoring, and ewes in low body condition score during the summer were preferentially fed before joining. Individual scanning results of ewes, and mob marking and weaning percentages were recorded on each farm.
These approaches resulted in some production increases, showing potential benefits if implemented on-farm. Producers also benefited from using eID on their farms to measure the effect of their management strategies, which in turn increased their confidence in making changes on a larger scale.
The aim of this project was for producers to become confident in the use of technology associated with eID and to use the data generated by eID to improve the productivity of their ewes and profitability of their sheep enterprise.
This project also investigated the barriers to effective adoption and use of eID technology to change ewe management in commercial sheep enterprises.
- Weight differences between control and monitored ewes were recorded and differences in scanning and marking results were able to be recorded during the project. This suggests that regular monitoring can improve management of ewes, through increased awareness of ewe bodyweight or condition.
- There were fewer differences between the control and monitored ewes at the end of the project when the ewes were under more nutritional pressure, during late pregnancy or lactation.
- If monitoring is continued, even during favourable seasons, producers can have more confidence around opportunistic decisions about the use of surplus feed.
- The use of eID is beneficial not just for livestock management but for other parts of the farm system, including pasture utilisation.
Benefits to industry
Producers gained skills and knowledge in using eID-related equipment and learned practical skills to implement the processes on-farm.
Monitoring ewes returned a positive return on investment (2.5—5 times) in 3 of 6 occasions; of the other 3 occasions, external factors (excellent season and loss of unexpected number of lambs in one mob) may have affected the results.
- Producer Demonstration Site (PDS): Integrating dual-purpose crops and eID into mixed farming systems, MLA final report, 12 November 2020
- Maximising the value of eID technology for sheep producers, MLA final report, 24 May 2019
|Primary researcher:||Mackinnon Project, University of Melbourne|