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BlogsAsk The Experts ForumHow Can RFID Be Used to Track Livestock?

How Can RFID Be Used to Track Livestock?

Posted By RFID Journal, 03.11.2014

Are there many examples of the technology being employed for this application?

—Name withheld


Tracking livestock with RFID is one of the oldest uses of the technology. Typically, animals have a plastic tag inserted through their ear, or a subcutaneous tag inserted under their hide—or, in the case of cows, they swallow a bolus tag that remains in their stomach. Each RFID transponder's ID number is then assigned to a specific animal.

Sometimes, RFID readers are set up at the gates through which animals pass, so that farmers can know for certain that each animal has returned from the field to the barn. Interrogators can also be set up at milking stations, to monitor the amount of milk produced by each cow.

One of the most important uses of RFID in animal husbandry is in treating animals. Before RFID was available, farmers often misidentified animals, giving doubles hormone doses—or none at all—to some of the cows. RFID allows each animal to be identified with certainty, and each medical treatment can thus be linked to a particular animal.

Here are some articles that might be of interest to you:

Farmers Learn to Milk RFID

Riding Herd: RFID Tracks Livestock

New Zealand Study Finds UHF Superior for Livestock Tracking

RFID Tattoos for Livestock

USDA Researchers Develop System to Track Livestock Feeding Behavior Unobtrusively

NXP Introducing New LF Chip for Livestock, Asset Tracking

RTLS Lets Pigs Roam Free

Wisconsin Ups RFID-Adoption Incentives for Cattle Growers

In addition, there will be a preconference at this year's RFID Journal LIVE! conference and exhibition—being held on Apr. 8-10, in Orlando, Fla.—titled "RFID in the Food Chain." This seminar is designed to educate growers, distributors and producers of food and food products regarding the benefits of using RFID to monitor the location and temperature of food as it moves through the supply chain. You might want to attend this preconference, so you can learn about the current state of RFID technology in the area of livestock-tracking.

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal


Hans Hoek 2014-03-14 02:48:37 AM
The Columns "Ask the Experts" usually provides a very accurate and up-to-date insight into certain topics. Unfortunately, the one about livestock doesn't fit that pattern. Livestock identification with RFID started about 10 years ago. Australia was one of the frontrunners with electronic identification (EID) of cattle. The main purpose was to track whereabouts, so in case of disease outbreaks, specific locations could be clodes, rather than the whole country. After the outbreak of FMD and Bluetongue in Europe, the EU decided to make EID mandatory for sheep and goats. This is currently being rolled out in Europe. Because of the mandatory nature, there is stiff resistance from farmers. More and more farmers, however, are discovering that, with the right tools (mainly software) EID can improve profitability - up to 40% per year during five years as some studies show. Where farmers typically manage hers with averages, EID enables to show the bell curve. By ridding the stock of underperformers and breeding with overperformers, farms can move to much better results, in heatlh, feed conversion and meat/milk/wool quality. For more information, go to www.litams.com
Mark Roberti 2014-03-14 09:11:52 AM
Hans, thanks for your comments. I'm not sure which part of my post you feel are inaccurate or out of date, as you didn't site anything specific. But to be clear, RFID tracking of animals goes back way more than 10 years, as this article clearly shows: http://www.rfidjournal.com/blogs/rfid-journal/entry?3315. Also, the question was asked by an individual about how RFID can be used by individual farmers and that is what I address. You are correct that more recently some governments have required RFID industry-wide to track animals in the case of disease outbreaks. However, if you do not live in one of these countries, you can still use RFID for the applications I described, as well as for the one you describe. Mark

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