The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers (IAAS) has said that high frequency electronic tagging could revolutionise the livestock industry.

The new president of the IAAS, Alan Hutcheon, met with the Under Secretary of State for Scotland, John Lamont, at ANM marts at Thainstone earlier this week to demonstrate the tagging system.

Hutcheon is also a director at ANM, which has trialled the high frequency tagging in a live mart situation.

“High frequency electronic tagging is essential for the future of our industry,” Hutcheon said.

“Having a single source digital database of all cattle movements will improve the efficiency and traceability across the supply chain, reduce the administrative burden that surrounds it and enhance animal welfare and staff safety.

“It also has the potential to help reduce red tape around exports and manage disease outbreaks.”

UHF technology

With the Scottish government due to announce a date for the compulsory use of ultra-high frequency (UHF) tags in the beef supply chain, Hutcheon said this technology can improve efficiencies and reduce costs for the sector.

“It’s so impressive and it’s only when you see it in action that you appreciate the savings in time and management, and importantly also for the health and safety for those working in the marts,” he said.

“The reader can quickly record numerous animals at a safe distance. It’s quick, it reduces the cross checking and paperwork, and it instantly creates easy traceability throughout the supply chain.”

ANM and ScotEID have been collaborating to trial UHF electronic tagging in a commercial situation in conjunction with farms and abattoirs.

Hutcheon said the technology has been through rigorous testing and continuously iterated over the last 10 years to ensure it is user-friendly, practical and accurate in both farm and mart conditions.

“It was a pleasure to show Mr Lamont and his team around the mart to discuss our industry and to be able to demonstrate so clearly the merits of ScotEID and why we need to fast track it into use, for farmers, for the marts, for abattoirs and meat wholesalers,” Hutcheon said.

Hutcheon said paper passports are costing tens of thousands of pounds to produce ever year and that this money could be redirected.

“If we could redeploy these government funds to support farmers and marts in the uptake of ScotEID, it would significantly support the industry to modernise and be more efficient, traceable, and less costly for all,” he said.