Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange adapts to electronic tags

HORSHAM Regional Livestock Exchange is on track with its transition to the digital age.

From January 1 this year, all new sheep and goats in Victoria are required to have electronic ear tags. 

Horsham Regional Livestock Exchange manager Paul Christopher said the change meant a lot of work for saleyards across the state to have the technology and hardware to accommodate the tags.

He said he was already starting to see the change in the industry.

“We’ve started having suckers coming through that have electronic tags,” he said.

“Anything born after January 1 has to have them.”

Mr Christopher said the saleyard was still going through the process to adapt to the tags.

“We have until March 31 next year before we have to have everything in place,” he said.

“We’ve applied for stage one funding to run trials of the software.

“We have until October 31 to put in a submission and buy all our hardware.”

Mr Christopher said there was still a lot of information that was unknown at this stage.

“The hardware is an unknown quantity,” he said.

“We don’t know how many scanners we will need or if we will need to scan tags just once or twice. “We’ve got a bit of work to do in the next few months.”

Mr Christopher said the saleyard would run a number of trials to work out the best way forward.

“We will do trials and see if we can cut anything out,” he said.

“We’ve had a look already at how we can run through the data, but we need to look at where we capture the data and how easy it will be.

“It will all work out in the end, it just takes time and every other saleyard in Victoria is in the same boat as us.”

At the Australian Livestock Saleyards Association conference in Melbourne earlier this month, Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Milne said attitudes towards the introduction of electronic tagging had changed dramatically in the past year. 

“I was lucky enough to go to Sheepvention, in Hamilton, and there were no questions about the why at all,” he said.

“It was all about the how and how do we implement it, to get the benefit from it.

“Attitudes have really changed and it’s got unstoppable momentum now.”

Dr Milne said Victorian trials so far had been important to work out how to implement the best system. 

“The trials have shown scanning sheep doesn’t impact on throughput – the scanners will allow the sheep to go through, just as quickly as they would normally go through,” he said.