RFID Ear Tags For Livestock Management

Introduzione:

Livestock management today undergoes several technological advancements. Among these advancements in agriculture is the incorporation of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) ear tags into animal management, particularly in the rearing of cattle and sheep.
RFID ear tags are important tools that play a role in updating traditional livestock practices. They provide valuable and precise information on animal health. This helps farmers and ranchers make informed decisions about their management practices.
RFID animal ear tags have quickly become an integral part of the livestock sector, but many people remain in the dark about this technology.
In this article, we shall discuss briefly on what RFID tags are, the various types of these devices, as well as the benefits of using RFID ear tags for cattle and sheep management.

What are RFID Ear Tags?

rfid ear tags for cattle

Radio frequency identification (RFID) animal ear tags are small electronic devices typically attached to livestock ears to identify individuals, and track their activities. The major materials used in the construction of RFID ear tags include durable materials like metals or plastics.
Alternatively referred to as RFID chips, these tags utilize radio waves to transmit data from the tag to the reader, and then to the RFID computer program.
Their most common application is in livestock management, however, RFID technology functions in the tracking of vehicles, pets, and impressively patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Components of RFID Animal Ear Tags

An RFID ear tag has two major components protected from environmental factors by a protective seal – a microchip and an antenna.
Between the two, the microchip stores all the animal’s unique data, such as date of birth, breeding details, and health history. The antenna allows the ear tag to receive and send information as radio waves to the RFID reader.
As such, whenever the RFID reader is close to the cattle or sheep, it picks up the radio waves transmitted by the antenna. And it scans the microchip to reveal a unique identity linked to the database. This database generally contains all information related to the animal. These include its breed, ownership details, age, and gender.

Types of RFID Ear Tags

RFID cattle tag

RFID ear tags come in various types with distinct characteristics and applications. They are broadly distinguished into low-frequency, high-frequency and ultra-frequency types. RFID tags use either of these three frequencies to communicate through radio waves.
Almost every RFID tag in the market is either active, passive or semi-passively operated.

1. Active RFID Tags:

These types of RFID tags are essentially their own batteries because they have their own power source, which allows them to actively communicate signals from the microchip to the RFID readers.
This unique feature allows active RFID tags to provide an extended read range, especially in applications that require real-time monitoring. They are the most reliable option for dynamic environments, such as large grazing areas, where it is paramount to track and monitor the activities of free-range cattle.

2. Passive RFID Ear Tags:

Unlike active tags, passive RFID ear tags do not possess an internal power source and rely on the energy produced by the RFID reader to operate. In other words, they only activate when they are within the transmission field of the reader. Otherwise, they remain powerless.
Passive ear tags, however, remain an integral aspect of tracking and identification systems. They have long lifespans, are cost-effective, and are suitable for a wide variety of applications, such as in the management of livestock inventory, record keeping, and regular animal health checks.

3. Semi-Passive RFID Ear Tags (Battery-assisted Passive or BAP):

This type of RFID combines both passive and active worlds. They receive power externally but store data for later transmission without recharge from the same source.
Semi-passive or BAP tags also have a longer lifespan than their passive counterparts and can last up to ten years.
Compared to passive tags, BAP tags have enhanced reading distance and the ability to function effectively without the complete power demands of active tags.

4. Low Frequency (LF) RFID Ear Tags

LF ear tags are a popular type of RFID that operate at low frequencies and are recognized for their resilience to interference. This kind of ear tag allows for communication within a small range, typically between 125 to 134KHz.
Because of its unique communication channel, a low-frequency ear tag can penetrate metallic and moist environments to provide accurate tracking and identification data about livestock.
They have long lifespans, which vary depending on the degree of wear and tear caused during different applications. These tags however have a short read range that allows for individual animal identification. Additionally, they store less information that can only be read one by one.
An example of a low-frequency ear tag in use is in livestock tracking. LF RFID ear tags for sheep and cattle help to trace the origin of the animal upon delivery to the market. Therefore, if contamination occurs, it will be easy to locate the right batch of meat from the tag.

5. High Frequency (HF) RFID Ear Tags

HF RFID ear tags operate at higher frequencies (usually 13.56MHz) and provide faster transfer of data. They are proficient in animal identification and tracking, especially in areas where a moderate read range is enough.

6. Ultra High Frequency (UHF) RFID Ear Tags

UHF ear tags offer the longest read range and operate at frequencies ranging between 860MHz to 960MHz. Due to their expanded range and ability to instantly transfer data, these types of ear tags are a popular option among farmers and ranchers.
Ultra high frequency ear tags are suitable for applications that involve tracking livestock over a large area. They are also used to record comprehensive information about a particular animal, owing to their ability to store more data than their counterparts.

Benefits of Using RFID Ear Tags for Cattle and Sheep Management

rfid animal ear tag

1. Improved Health Management:

RFID tags assist ranchers in monitoring individual health status in the herd or sheep, and further help detect illness in an animal. These devices can store important medical and vaccination history and give an account of the animal’s current status using body temperature.
As a result, ranchers can swiftly identify health issues and report them to the veterinarian for treatment. Thus avoiding potential animal losses and boosting the productivity of the personnel.

2. Facilitate Efficient Breeding Programs:

RFID tags provide accurate data such as breeding history, delivery dates, and heritage. This helps farmers and ranchers manage effective breeding programs that will guarantee the quality of offspring.

3. Easy Tracking of Livestock:

RFID tags simplify livestock tracking by automatically recognizing individual animals. They collect their real-time locations via the RFID reader.
This trait further helps track and accurately identify movement patterns and grazing habits. Thus, this limits the need for manual inspection, saving time and physical labor.

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