“For registration, seven different systems are used in the Netherlands that process data from the ‘Bonte Schaap’ breed. It concerns three organizations with their own software systems and four suppliers of software packages. Data from with the software registered animals was not exchanged. The different authorities do not cooperate and hardly communicate about the data. I thought that should change. In order to prevent inbreeding and diseases as much as possible and to strive for a healthy, economically good sheep breed, it was time that we started sharing data via one database.”
Louis Oosterom, co-founder and secretary of the NederLands Bonte Schaap (NLBS) association, had been thinking for several years of bundling the seven different systems into one.
“I actually know ZooEasy in two ways. My plan was to get all data from the systems at file level and allow members at user level to add and view data. I looked for several packages that supported this and ZooEasy was the only one that offered user-level file import. That’s how I ended up with them. In addition, my wife breeds rabbits and has been working with ZooEasy since 2010. So it is not an unknown name to me.”
“To give an example of the situation before ZooEasy: you bought a sheep from a breeder (connected to one of the systems) and you could only look up data of the added sheep in that specific system, if you had access already! So you could not see the data of other, perhaps more suitable sheep. ZooEasy makes it possible to view this now and to compare the data.”
“The collaboration with ZooEasy is going well. Because I work with seven different systems and therefore also administrations, I do not have a standard database and that sometimes makes it more difficult to work. Fortunately, with ZooEasy I can talk at a technical level and I can often figure it out myself. I am now ready to prepare and import all databases in files. That has now been tested and we can now go live soon.”
To improve the quality of breeding and of animals, we looked at one central database. This is an extra database for a breeder, but he or she can now check all the data. This is a great development, especially in the field of disease and inbreeding. For example, the (economic) Maedi-Visna disease causes problems among sheep breeders. Maedi-Visna is a disease that, after three or four years, often breaks out in sheep and is always fatal. To ensure that breeders buy a healthy sheep, they can see with the ZooEasy package, which is based on inbreeding, whether a sheep has been inspected and is healthy. There is a limit. You only get access to ZooEasy when you also process your own animal data in the system. You give something to others and you get useful information yourself.”
“At the moment, the association has 96 members and 60,000 sheep registered in the seven systems (we don’t even count members with their own administration at home). Quite a few! From hobbyists with 10 sheep to large companies with 300 to 400 sheep. At the moment we are a breeding association and into the future we are looking at whether we should switch to a studbook. A studbook means that you meet legal obligations and that members do not have a choice, but you make the choice for them. At this time, our members are free to choose whether to purchase or participate in a package, course or workshop. That distinguishes us from a studbook and we find it very important. Nothing is obligatory. We are now going to see whether we will eventually become an interest group for companies, hobbyists or a combination of both!”