Computerised livestock weighing

Electronic identification and auto-drafting makes livestock management easier, says Greg Miles.

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Live animal weighing is crucial to effective farm management. Gallagher has now developed a fully computerised auto-drafting machine, claiming that it is “robust and ready to handle even the toughest farm environment”. According to the company, it is also very quiet, which keeps stock calmer.

The Gallagher machine uses electronic identification (EID), whereby individual animals are identified and traced by an ID number stored on an electronic ear tag. Data can then be captured at farm operation level. André Labuschagne from Jacobsdal abattoir in the Free State says that the auto-drafter has boosted profit margins in his feedlot. He adds that it took just two months to pay for itself. “We have about 16 000 sheep and we know that each sheep costs us about R6 a day.”

IED weighing enables a farmer to carry out the following:

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  • Measure feed conversion and maximise yield by monitoring weight gain over time.
  • Monitor animal health (for example, the machine can be programmed to put all sheep that have lost weight in a pen. The next morning these animals can be inspected and treated). 
  • Programme a defined weight gain (such as 200g a day). Sheep not reaching this goal can then be culled. Another user said that before he installed a computerised drafter, these aspects were impossible to monitor and he suffered losses in profitability. 

Large flocks
The machine can also be used for large flocks, and the information gathered can assist in genetic improvement. Watch EID Weighing Performance video demonstration or visit

Cost-effective alternative
A more affordable auto-drafter solution is available from Prattley. Although not fully automatic like the Gallagher machine, it is designed for ease and convenience and can be operated by two workers. Details are available at