Implementing electronic identification for performance recording in sheep: I. Manual versus semiautomatic and automatic recording systems in dairy and meat farms

A. Ait-Saidi, G. Caja, A. A.K. Salama, S. Carné

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12 Citations (Scopus)


© 2014 American Dairy Science Association. With the aim of assessing the secondary benefits of using electronic identification (e-ID) in sheep farms, we compared the use of manual (M), semiautomatic (SA), and automatic (AU) data-collection systems for performance recording (i.e., milk, lambing, and weight) in 3 experiments. Ewes were identified with visual ear tags and electronic rumen boluses. The M system consisted of visual ear tags, on-paper data recording, and manual data uploading to a computer; the use of a personal digital assistant (PDA) for data recording and data uploading was also done in M. The SA system used a handheld reader (HHR) for e-ID, data recording, and uploading. Both PDA and HHR used Bluetooth for uploading. The AU system was only used for body weight recording and consisted of e-ID, data recording in an electronic scale, and data uploading. In experiment 1, M and SA milk-recording systems were compared in a flock of 48 dairy ewes. Ewes were milked once- (×1, n=24) or twice- (×2, n=24) daily in a 2 × 12 milking parlor and processed in groups of 24. Milk yield (1.21±0.04L/d, on average) was 36% lower in ×1 than ×2 ewes and milk recording time correlated positively with milk yield (R2=0.71). Data transfer was markedly faster for PDA and HHR than for M. As a result, overall milk recording time was faster in SA (×1=12.1±0.6min/24 ewes; ×2=22.1±0.9min/24 ewes) than M (×1=14.9±0.6min/24 ewes; ×2=27.9±1.0min/24 ewes). No differences between PDA and HHR were detected. Time savings, with regard to M, were greater for ×2 than for ×1 (5.6±0.2 vs. 2.8±0.1min per 24 ewes, respectively), but similar for PDA and HHR. Data transfer errors averaged 3.6% in M, whereas no errors were found in either SA system. In experiment 2, 73 dairy and 80 meat ewes were monitored at lambing using M and SA. Overall time for lambing recording was greater in M than SA in dairy (1.67±0.06 vs. 0.87±0.04min/ewe) and meat (1.30±0.03 vs. 0.73±0.03min/ewe) ewes. Recording errors were greater in dairy (9.6%) than in meat (1.9%) ewes. Data uploading errors only occurred in M (4.9%). In experiment 3, 120 dairy and 120 meat ewes were weighed using M and AU systems. In both flocks, mean BW recording and data uploading times, as well as overall BW recording time (0.63±0.02 and 0.25±0.01min/ewe, respectively) were greater in M than in AU, and uploading errors only occurred in M (8.8%). In conclusion, HHR and PDA systems were time-effective for performance recording, both saving time and improving data accuracy. Working load and time for ewe identification were faster in HHR but it did not affect the performance recording time. The PDA was the fastest device for data download. Further research will evaluate the costs of implementing e-ID for performance recording and other uses in sheep farms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7505-7514
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Ear tag
  • Electronic identification
  • Milk recording
  • Rumen bolus
  • Transponder


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