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Digital Angel Announces Active Tags for Livestock
The company's new r.Tag has a 100-foot read range, making it possible for a meat producer to not only identify hundreds of animals simultaneously, but also pinpoint their locations.
Although the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) does not require the use of RFID for tracking livestock, it does recommend the technology as a means of doing so, as part of the National Animal Identification System, a voluntary tracking system. Producers may also utilize ear tags that have only a printed number, rather than both a printed number and an integrated RFID tag.
Jim Heinle, president of Global Animal Management, believes active tags present significant benefits unavailable with passive tags, and that they might go far to increase interest in RFID tracking among livestock producers.
"The use of passive RFID systems continues to grow, but not at the rate that people might have predicted three or four years ago," Heinle says, attributing the slow growth to the limited read range of passive tags, as well as their vulnerability to RF interference. The benefits that active tags offer producers, he adds, could trigger a "revolutionary change" in RFID adoption in the industry.
It remains to be seen whether the added read distance and ability to identify large numbers of livestock in groups will persuade producers who have not yet invested in passive RFID systems to begin using the r.Tag platform. However, Sullivan notes that three different livestock producers—a feed lot and two farms—have been beta-testing the tags and readers for up to 18 months, and with good results. The tags have withstood temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit (-29 degrees Celsius), he adds.
Destron Fearing introduced the r.Tag system at the 2009 Annual Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) Trade Show, which was held on Jan. 28-31 in Phoenix, Ariz. A live demo of the system can be viewed online.
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