A project to develop a ScotEID multi-species database to allow movement data to be electronically transferred through Scottish auction marts using electronic identification is being pushed ahead by The Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS).

At present, only sheep movement records are held by ScotEID in Scotland, but as the information is based on the transfer of data from low frequency tags - as demanded by EU law - there have been a few 'hiccups' along the way, as many tags fail to read.

The EU's directive to have all cattle electronically tagged from 2019 onwards, means that a multi-species database is required, hence this project intends to commercially source radio frequency identification tags (RFID) containing both low frequency and ultra high frequency transponders.

The tags will be made available to producers who sell cattle through the auction system, with the information they provide on individual animals collected electronically in the marts and passed directly to ScotEID.

Speaking at the IAAS annual conference at Cumbernauld, last weekend, the Institute's executive secretary Andrew Wright said industry needs to get to grips with cattle EID and have the databases designed to transfer and use all the information to make sure a system that is fit for purpose in Scotland, instead of having a system forced upon us by the EU Commission.

"We need to be able to trace all movements accurately, and with RFID tags there is no reason why we can't use the information they contain as a management tool as well," he told The Scottish Farmer.

"There is no EU standard identification rule for cattle, and by doing our own research into the various tags we hope to be in a better position when EID in cattle becomes compulsory in 2019.

"We already highlight the disease status of individual cattle being sold through the market, and by using such tags as a management tool, more information can be transferred automatively."

As the use of data transfer and electronic identification is one of the main proposals of the Beef2020 - established to drive growth in the Scottish beef sector in 2013 - this data will be managed by ScotEID and linked to BCMS/CTS; QMS SPECC and the BVD eradication database. It is also hoped there will be a facility to link with The Beef Efficiency Scheme (BES)

Mr Wright said the aim of the project was not to trial the technologies of EID but to build a data base so that once the technologies are determined, data can be transferred effectively and efficiently.

Once the project has been finalised, the IAAS will be lobbying for financial aid from industry bodies, government, and the EU to deliver the project, which is hoped will be up and running either for calving in the back-end, or spring-calving next year.

* Robert Gilchrist of Quality Meat Scotland, urged beef producers to embrace EID and make use of the technology it carries.

"Memory sticks are able to contain a lot more information than filing cabinets so just think of the potential information an electronic tag can hold.

EID is also far more efficient and takes away from hairy lug disease as you no longer have to spend five minutes fighting with an animal to grab hold of it's lug to find it's tag number number.

It can can also tell you what drugs and how much of individual medicines animals have received - effectively individual animals are able to carry their own medicine books in their lug."

Mr Gilchrist also highlighted that by next year, the weights and visual analysis of individual animals should be able to be recorded via computerised water troughs, thereby enabling producers to predict down to 10kg either way when an individual animals have hit the right weight and fat cover, without having having the stress of being pushed over the weigh-bridge every week to 10 days.