Electronic identification for sheep - key facts


Electronic Identification what is it?

Electronic Identification (EID) based on low Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), most often inset within ear tags or as microchips. Compulsory electronic tagging in the sheep industry was introduced in 2010 for breeding animals over 12 months old. For younger slaughter animals regulations vary between Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Research, demonstration and knowledge exchange activities conducted by research staff at SRUC’s Hill & Mountain Research Centre, Kirkton and Auchtertyre research farms (near Crianlarich) aim to highlight opportunities for farmers to see the technology as a means of better management rather than an additional burden on resources.

Key Facts

  • Data collection – A data reader held near the eartag gives access to all the stored information relating to the particular animal. 
  • Animal handling and labour savings – Handling time is greatly reduced. With a properly calibrated weigher/shedder, nearly 500 animals per hour can be weighed and sorted. Farm labour is therefore more efficiently used; a major benefit for extensive farmers. 
  • Data Accuracy – Mistakes linked to misread tags can be reduced, as can paper work overall. The recorded and stored information can be transferred for use elsewhere, such as animal movement records, or medicine books. 
  • New opportunities – Animal management can potentially be positively enhanced. Basing husbandry management and decision-making at the animal level, rather than flock or herd, can lead to improved productivity and efficiency. 
  • Health and safety – Risks to animal handling staff, whilst reading tags or drafting and sorting animals can be reduced by using the data reader and automated weigher/shedder.

From the SRUC website