5 common eID mistakes you can avoid
Electronic identification and individual animal management helps producers to change the performance of their herd or flock. It does this by assessing the performance of an individual and whether it should be kept, sold or bred based on collected data. Sounds great, but why do some eID projects fail to deliver on this promise? This article draws on over 14 years of experience to explore the 5 most common mistakes and how you can avoid them.
- No Clear goal; If you do not have a clear focus on what you want to change about the performance of your animals, or don’t understand where improvements need to be made then eID won’t change anything. You don’t take your ute for a drive, not knowing where you are going and expect to get somewhere. Develop a shortlist of prioritised outcomes and ensure that these are specific and measurable. Is it fertility, weight gain or market compliance that you aim to improve? What do you need to measure? Do you know your current performance? How are you going to establish what ‘an improvement’ is?
- Not seeking good advice: With any buying decision – get good advice. We often encounter farmers who have not sought advice on what they should be doing. They are often frustrated that they have not achieved anything or are just plain embarrassed and shelve their eID plans because of it. There are a large number of specialists who can provide good advice – speak to several and speak to early innovators or local users of eID about their experiences. Don’t be bamboozled by features and functions of equipment at a field day, and don’t get side tracked by features designed to excite and rush you into a quick buying decision. Make sure the advice is about your desired goals and outcomes. Any salesman worth their salt should be able to discuss how their product will provide you with an improved livestock enterprise and walk you through the process.
- Buying the wrong equipment: Unfortunately we see this a lot. Producers have already purchased equipment and often spend a considerable sum of money without a clear end goal and without doing their research. The equipment is not really what they need, is substantially over spec’d or lacks the vital feature that they need. Ensure you understand what you want to achieve, work out how to achieve it and then buy what you need to facilitate the process. You don’t need a semitrailer to pick up 3 bags of dog food, you only need a ute.
- Not using the data: This always trips up the intrepid eID novice. They go out, buy the gear, put the tags in and start accumulating data at an unprecedented rate. Animals are being weighed, things are being measured, data is being entered. But then what? Producers often fail at this point because they never have time to manipulate the data, or it just basically becomes too hard. Every piece of data that is collected is an investment that is not realised until a meaningful decision is made based upon that data. Data analysis software is key to making the right decisions and is easier than you think, but it is often an afterthought. Plan how you are going to use your data. Planning what you are going to measure and how you are going to use that data to make better decisions, is essential.
- Missed opportunities: eID and individual animal management allow livestock producers to make the most of any opportunity or to enable them to mitigate threats. Opportunities are missed because the farmer did not think to use their data to help make a decision and the ‘business’ side of farming is forgotten. When prices are up, who should be sold; when rains fail, who should be sold. Too many times farmers just rely on traditional techniques of ‘sell the old’ when times are tough instead of using intelligent decision making based on an individual animal’s performance. Since our inception we have seen just how well this can work first hand, “Many successful clients have saved or made 10 times their investment in eID just by being better equipped to make intelligent and confident decisions.”