LambTracker Progress Report

Coding on the LambTracker programs is continuing at a fast pace. We currently have several working modules.

The first is LambTracker Print Utility: It is part of a package that will read an EID tag and print a barcode label with the tag number plus 1 line of text you desire on a small label printer. The model of printer we have used is a Brother QL710W. List price is $139 for the printer but they generally are available for under $75.00 at Amazon with free Prime shipping. Print Utility is designed to be used for labeling blood tubes during sample collection. The package consist of two Android applications, one being the Print Utility which interfaces with the Brother Printer and the other being the EID scanning client which talk via Bluetooth to the EID reader and generates an image of the barcode plus your text. Here is an example.


The Main LambTracker program has also progressed. Major accomplishments include:

Id Info database structure – The database design for storing and retrieving identification information has been defined and verified. A sheep ID can be a federal tag, a farm tag, an ear notch or split, paint brand, tattoo or an electronic tag. The database is designed so that it is easy to add new ear tag types or new identification types as required. For each separate id there is a date put on and a date removed so there is a full history of all id’s on a given sheep over the life of the sheep.

Sheep info expanded – We have changed how sheep information is stored. Details about a specific sheep including name, flock name, sex, sire, dam, birthdate, birth type, rearing type, lambease, remove reason, death date and remove date are all now stored separately to make additions simpler. We have created space to store whether a sheep was sold, died from predators or old age or slaughtered for meat among the remove reasons. Again, the database has been designed so that it is easy to add new reasons for removing sheep from the flock. We have not yet dealt with how to handle embryo transfer sheep nor document the rearing ewe for a lamb who was grafted onto a new mother.

Lambing database structure – The way we store and retrieve lambing information has been changed. Now each individual lambing event has a sire and dam link, information on the numbers of lambs born, numbers of lambs weaned and 2 fields for coding results, a free text narrative of the issues with the lambing and a place to quickly indicate whether the lambs were ewes, rams or stillborn. This can be expanded to include additional data as required.

The ConvertToEID task is nearly finished. This particular module will allow the searching of a sheep by either farm, federal or other id info. Then you can choose which ear tags to remove, if necessary, and also then attach a new EID tag and link it in to the database for that sheep.

During the development of the ConvertToEID we realized that for our flock for this year at least we wanted to only put the EID tags into sheep we plan to keep for breeding or to sell as breeding stock and not into any of the animals already identified as butcher sheep. Part of the determination is an extensive individual sheep evaluation we do on every animal. This consists of collecting scores on a variety of characteristics, along with scores for weight, weight gains, birth type, scrapie genetics and so on. Sheep are evaluated and then ranked and the lower ranking animals are slated to be butchered when ready. Our current process is a paper based one and is complex and difficult to use.

So we have started the implementation of a simple EvaluateSheep task and its related CreateSheepEvaluation. The user will select from a number of traits to evaluate on a scale of 0-5 with 5 being best and 0 being worst. The user can also select from several traits with real values, scrotal circumference and weight for example. Based on the selections an evaluate screen is generated that allows the user to select a sheep based on id info such as EID tags or other ID. Then a series of selection buttons for the scores for each trait are displayed. Data entry for the real values is allowed via on-screen keyboard input. The sheep is evaluated by an inspector, a judge or the farmer and finally the scores are saved into the database system. These data are then correlated to produce a report of the sheep ranked in order of their final evaluation scores from that time. Since sheep get evaluated multiple times in their life we save all the past evaluation scores. This module is nearly complete and will be tested by doing the evaluations on our adult rams, ram lambs and ewe lambs prior to installing EID ear tags.

Lastly we are pleased to report that the Shearwell SET tag system has been approved by the USDA as an official ID. We are waiting for the final physical signatures to be sent back from the UK but the tags are approved as official ID for sheep, goats, pigs, deer, elk, alpaca and llama. As soon as we have information on how to order tags we will update it here. These tags can be purchased as pairs of an EID and a visual tag with matching numbers. We plan to start with next year lambs getting official EID at birth.

All current code, whether working or not is on GitHub.