Choosing the right EID software
The right electronic identification (EID) software can be a powerful tool for a wool or lamb producer. It provides the ability to gather and store data, then generate reports from that data to assist with decision making and streamlining on-farm operations.
There are a range of software options available to producers to help improve their farming operations. Knowing your needs, and understanding the various equipment components will ensure that your system is efficient and cost effective.
Think about your individual needs
Before you purchase any farming software, think about:
- the information you want to collect
- if and how you'll use that information in your operation
What data should you collect?
With an EID system using electronic NLIS (sheep) tags you can record anything that can be measured objectively or subjectively. But there are four key points to help you decide what to record for your sheep enterprise:
- Only record data that will add value to the enterprise.
- Always keep data collection tasks as simple as possible.
- There is no point in collecting data unless you will actually use it.
- The more data you collect, the harder it is to manage.
Think about whether the software suits your needs
To summarise your software package requirements, answer the following questions about your enterprise and how you work:
- What decisions do you make in your enterprise, why and where? (For example, in-yard decisions versus in-office decisions.)
- Based on your key decisions, what information do you need from the software?
- Is the software able to capture and report on the data you need to get this information and make the decisions crucial to your business?
- What do your reports need to look like for you to get this data and interpret the information? Does the system you're considering give you the data reports you need?
To assess whether the software package will fit your needs, you must also consider:
- how easy the data is to input
- the method of data entry (is it manual and EID compatible?)
- how easy it is to generate reports
- if the program is formatted to suit your information and enterprise
- if the program is compatible with other software, hardware and equipment that you're currently using or considering purchasing
- if the software will allow you to easily share information with organisations that you currently work with (such as LAMBPLAN, NLIS database or quality assurance programs)
- if you're comfortable using the program
- if you'll use it regularly — for many producers, it's a better investment to employ a contractor for major or irregular tasks instead of purchasing equipment outright
Try before you buy
Test software thoroughly before you buy it to make sure that it will meet your needs and is a program that you are comfortable using. Check the software company's website to see if there's a demo copy available to download, or contact them to request one.
Software packages are only as powerful as the accuracy of the information that has been inputted into the system — incorrect or missing information will result in an incorrect analysis.
While the initial software setup might take some time to use the package to its full potential, once this is done, the right software package can impact significantly on your business and help clarify some of those difficult on-farm decisions.
EID isn't about owning lots of fancy toys
In fact you don't have to own any equipment at all. Contractors can undertake all of the major tasks on farm, eliminating the need to own, and understand any equipment. Some producers are already doing this. The only difference to the work that they undertake themselves is applying electronic NLIS (sheep) tags at marking.
EID doesn't have to be expensive
The amount you spend on your EID system will depend entirely on your desired outcomes, your enterprise type, enterprise size and need for efficient operations. No EID system has to be expensive. Know what you want and need from EID and only spend the money needed to achieve these outcomes.
Remember, EID isn't auto-drafters
Auto-drafters aren't EID, and are not always necessary. Almost anything can be achieved with a handheld reader and a manual weigh crate.
Auto-drafters simply make some jobs quicker and more labour efficient.