What is sheep and goat eID?
eIDs are electronic identification devices, often tags or leg bands, that contain a microchip with a unique electronic identification number. eIDs are read by a scanner, which identifies the unique number of each sheep and goat. Once an eID system is implemented the tags will be scanned every time a sheep or goat moves to a new location so that their movement can be traced.
eIDs are not just for producers of sheep and goats. Once implemented in Tasmania, the new requirements will apply even if you own only a few backyard animals. You also need a Property Identification Code (PIC), as part of Australia’s National Livestock Traceability System (NLIS), to identify the property where the sheep or goat is kept.
Why are we moving toward eIDs?
In September 2022, as part of ongoing national traceability reforms, Australia’s Agriculture Ministers agreed to work collaboratively with industry to introduce national mandatory individual electronic identification (eID) for sheep and goats by
1 January 2025. eIDs have been used successfully in Australian cattle since 2005 and in Victorian sheep and goats since 2016.
Australia has been using a mob-based system to trace the movement of sheep and goats. In a ‘mob-based’ system, the movement of sheep and goats are recorded from property to property as ‘mobs’ using Property Identification Codes (PIC) and visual ear tags. The traceability of individual sheep and goats is very difficult to achieve through this system.
The elD system allows individual sheep and goats to be traced more accurately and efficiently. By enhancing sheep and goat traceability, Australia will be more equipped to quickly respond and recover from emergency animal disease outbreaks. Industry will significantly benefit from eID as well, improving consumer confidence in sheep and goat products, strengthening market access, and enhancing herd monitoring and management.
What are the other benefits?
The ability to monitor the fertility, weight, wool traits, disease status and health treatments of individual animals, helping industry to make more informed decisions on flock and herd management, therefore improving flock performance
Improved individual carcass data and feedback
The ability to monitor lines of sheep and goats purchased from different vendors to assess profitability
Reduces the need to physically handle sheep and goats to check visible ear tags, reducing stress and potential injuries to animals and staff
A tool that can be used daily to source information quickly, including accurate flock numbers and ensuring livestock are travelling to their correct destination
A better traceability system will reinforce Australia’s reputation for high food standards. This will maintain Australia’s high product integrity, improve consumer confidence, and enable Australia to deliver a product of higher value.
Faster Ability to Respond and Recover from an Emergency Animal Disease (EAD) Outbreak
The emergence of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD) in Indonesia has increased the risk of an incursion into Australia and reaffirmed the need for a robust and harmonised national traceability system.
In the event of an EAD outbreak or residue incident, it is critical that animal locations and movements can be traced quickly to:
limit spread of the disease;
minimise the number of animals impacted (including animals destroyed);
reduce impact on producers, the supply chain, and the community;
reduce time that Australia is restricted from export markets; and
reduce the number of consumers impacted by food safety issues (in the case of a residue incident).
Implementation of eID in Victoria has shown that tracing now takes a matter of minutes, whereas under the visual tag, mob-based system, tracing could take several days. During the 2001 FMD outbreak in the United Kingdom, animals were not individually tagged with an eID. It took 7 weeks to trace animals, leading to the disease spreading across the country. More than 6 million animals were destroyed, and export market bans were in place for 7 years.
In Australia, exports represent 70% of the total value of Australia's agricultural production, with the remaining 30% consumed domestically. Export markets bans in Australia during an EAD would cause devastating economic losses. To reduce this economic impact, the implementation of eIDs will be critical to assist Australia in regaining market access.
The 5 Whys...
The Australian Government have outlined the 5 whys for transitioning to eID. More information on the 5 ways can be found in the document below:
29 Sep 2022
- General Biosecurity Direction (Livestock Traceability) enacted
- Drafting of traceability regulations commenced
January - June 2023
- Red Meat Steering Committee Roadmap for eID implementation in Tas finalised
- Sheep Regulatory Advisory Group established
- Goat Regulatory Advisory Group established
- Mandatory eID tagging of sheep and goats leaving a property commences
- All supply chain participants ready to scan eID tags
There will be ongoing opportunities for industry, across the entire supply chain, to engage with Biosecurity Tasmania on the transition to eID. These opportunities will be both face-to-face and online, and will give stakeholders the chance to provide input, feedback, and share information.
Tasmania's approachBiosecurity Tasmania will work closely with industry to support the implementation of sheep and goat eID. Two industry-led advisory groups have been established to inform and support the implementation:
1. Sheep Regulatory Advisory Group (SRAG)
2. Goat Regulatory Advisory Group (GRAG)
These groups will facilitate the implementation of sheep and goat eIDs by acting as a conduit between industry and government, and report to the Biosecurity Tasmania Traceability Governance Group (BTTAG) who are the decision-making body for Tasmania's Primary Produce Traceability Program.
The Australian Government has announced $46.7m to support traceability improvements in Australia over 3 years. This includes $20.1M in special purpose payments for co-investment with States and Territories to support on and off-farm improvements, including a transition to eID for sheep and goats. The remaining $26.6m is for upgrading the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) database.
The Tasmanian Government is negotiationg with the Australian Government for support for Tasmanian producers.
It is anticipated that further information will be released by December 2023. In the interim, project staff are to be employed as soon as possible to engage with industry.
New regulations are being developed under the
Biosecurity Act 2019 to implement mandatory identification for sheep and goats. These new regulations will be supported by a range of policies and standards and will include obligations relating to the electronic identification of sheep and goats.
Once enacted, the livestock traceability regulations will replace the Animal (Brands and Movement) Act 1984, Animal (Brands and Movement) Regulations 2014 and the General Biosecurity Direction (Livestock Traceability) 03/22, all of which will be repealed.
National Sheep and Goat Task Force
At a national level, the Australian Government has established an industry-government Sheep and Goat Traceability Task Force. This focusses on national issues such as harmonisation between states and territories to ensure the NLIS database and eID systems are compatible.