Mr Hooke, who runs Willera Poll Merino stud with his family, said a workshop that would be held at the Serpentine Recreation Reserve from 11am to 2pm during the field day, would help producers understand tags and associated equipment, and how they could be used on-farm.
The organisers hope the workshop will give people another incentive to attend the field day, where Mr Hooke said people could see a diverse range of quality Merino genetics suited to different climatic conditions.
One of the guest speakers, Nathan Scott, Achieve Ag Solutions, Inverleigh, said how eID tags in sheep could be used depended on the individual business.
He suggests producers first think about what they want to achieve before they buy any equipment or start collecting data.
“There are people who collect a lot of data and not make any money with it; whereas other people can collect targetted information and use it more effectively to increase productivity.”
He said since the Victorian government had made eID tags mandatory for sheep (with lambs born from January 1 needing to be tagged), he expected the uptake of scanning and other equipment to increase.
But, he said, there was a wide range of technology that could use the eID tags, which differed in costs and capabilities – from stick readers through to auto-drafters.
He suggests producers work through options by:
- Write down SMART (specific, measurable, agreed upon, realistic and time-based) breeding or business objectives;
- Work out what should be measured and how;
- Work out whether you need your own equipment to collect and manage data or could a contractor do it more efficiently;
- Work out what value you will get from the investment.
Mr Scott said eIDs could be used to collect information on different bloodlines’ productivity, in terms of lambing percentage, fleece weight and traits etc, but more importantly, the information could give feedback on management.
“What we don’t realise is how much variation there is between animals; averages can be deceiving and some things we’ve taken for granted aren’t always true,” he said. He gave the example of people assuming that twin or triplet sheep would not reach the weight of their single-born paddock mates, but he said that wasn’t always the case. He said data could show people different ways managing livestock other than what had always been done.