Choosing an EID tag reader
Owning a handheld or panel electronic identification (EID) reader means producers can scan EID tags of sheep on their property. This gives them the potential to store and analyse data, and use it to:
- improve flock management
- apply individual animal management
When used in conjunction with many of the farm management software packages now available, this can be a powerful tool in decision making and business development.
EID readers can be either:
The type of reader that you buy will depend on your needs.
There are a range of styles of handheld readers.
- simple readers that read a tag and send the information wirelessly to another device, such as weigh scales or a computer
- readers that display information about the animal on a built-in screen
Example of handheld reader use
You can achieve a lot with a simple low-cost handheld reader.
- Pregnancy scan all ewes and draft them into their various pregnancy status mobs.
- Read the tag of each ewe in the singles mob and call the file 'singles'. Then start a new file and call it 'twins' and read all of the tags in the twin mob. You now have pregnancy status recorded for that year against those ewes.
- Match to other years' pregnancy status and you can walk down the race before joining and read the tags of each ewe, displaying her pregnancy history over multiple years.
- Use this information in real time to allocate ewes to particular joining groups or, if it is a tough season, to remove those that have been consistently underperforming.
In some cases your pregnancy scanning contractor is equipped to record the individual pregnancy status for your ewes. In this case, all you need to do is collate that data with previous years, and load it onto your reader.
Read range for handheld readers
Handheld readers have a read range of between 20cm to 40cm 360 degrees from the tip of the wand. This, combined with the length of the reader itself (up to 60cm) allows you to scan sheep in yards without getting too close to the animals.
Using a handheld reader
For most readers, using the reader is simply a matter of pressing the read button when the tag is in the read range. Most readers come equipped with an audible beeper, light or vibration, which will be activated when a successful read occurs.
Note: Using the readers to even gently hit animals can damage the reader.
Downloading data from handheld readers
Once you've completed a scanning session, you can download the data to a computer, scale indicator or palm using companion programs that are provided with the device. In some cases, this process can also be conducted using Microsoft Excel.
Once the EID numbers have been downloaded, they can be used as the animals primary identification, or may be cross referenced against existing herd management numbers. This allows you to easily identify each animal when they are scanned in the future. Handheld readers can also be integrated with weighing systems to further improve herd management.
As with handheld systems, there a wide range of panel readers available. The type of panel reader that you purchase depends on individual business requirements. Panel readers are particularly useful when you have large numbers of stock.
Read range for panel readers
Panel readers have a read range of between 55cm and 150cm, which extends 360 degrees from the panel. Because panel readers are multi-directional, make sure when you install it that it will scan only the tags of the sheep you want to have scanned.
While panel readers cannot be made to read in one direction only, you can adjust the distance they read.
Most panel readers come equipped with an audible beeper or light which will be activated when a tag is successfully read.
Panel mounting and installation
Panels emit an electronic signal to read the NLIS tags, so metal might interfere with the signal and prevent tags from being read accurately.
For the panel to work correctly, they must be properly installed. Check with the supplier about mounting requirements.
Downloading data from panel readers
Most panel readers don't come with any means of number storage, so they must be integrated with a scale indicator, computer or palm to download and retain the electronic ID number of any scanned animals.