How RFID is Changing the Livestock Industry?
Radiofrequency identification (RFID) technology is being used in a wide variety of industries, including animal husbandry. The use of RFID for livestock management is becoming the norm, not the exception, in part due to authorization from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
RFID tags are replacing traditional metal ID tags in livestock management.
Animals receive RFID ear tags tracked by stationary and handheld readers.
Farmers use RFID to identify and track livestock inventories and record basic health data for each animal.
Governments around the world are encouraging the use of this technology to better manage animal diseases.
The USDA wants to mandate the use of RFID tags for all cattle involved in interstate travel and exhibitions.
The working principle of RFID in animal husbandry management
In livestock management, RFID is used to identify and track individual animals, including cows, bison, pigs, goats, and more. A tamper-resistant RFID tag in durable plastic housing is attached to each animal's ear with an easy-to-use applicator tool. Many tags consist of two discs connected together by the animal's ear. The process is similar to piercing a human ear. Each tagged animal is assigned a unique 15-digit tracking number, and an RFID reader identifies each animal by its RFID tag.
Farms can use portable or stationary RFID readers to interrogate tags. Some portable readers look like magic wands that can be waved on livestock, while others are more traditional in design. Stationary readers can be installed in passageways that cattle pass through, or as part of a traditional scale used to weigh animals. Data collected from the readers is entered into the facility's computer system, which can be connected via the Internet to a cloud-based tracking system. Given the right type of reader, livestock location can be monitored in real-time.
How RFID is used in animal husbandry management?
Farmers need to quickly and easily identify their animals during inventory. Traditionally, farmers have used metal ID tags attached to the animals' ears for this purpose. RFID tags are replacing metal tags because they offer significantly enhanced functionality. Old metal tags have to be read visually by farmers, which is time-consuming and leads to countless errors. Old-fashioned labels can easily get caught on leaves and machines, causing them to loosen and eventually get lost.
On the other hand, RFID tags are more durable than traditional metal tags. They are read electronically rather than visually, eliminating human error. The tags don't require the animal to be completely still to be read, which provides options for reading them - animals can be scanned in the field, during feedings, in chutes, or wherever they happen to be. The following video shows how RFID tags can be used in livestock tracking.
Other benefits of RFID tracking
RFID tags allow farmers to do more than identify individual animals. The tag and accompanying software can store the animal's entire history, including its weight, age, sex, time of delivery, offspring, and medical records. For example, this enables veterinarians to simply scan an animal's label for detailed information about that animal's health.
It's all part of a "smart farming" trend that uses Internet of Things (IoT) technology to manage all aspects of livestock management. By collecting the right data, farmers can better manage milking, feeding, breeding, and other activities from birth to slaughter. Farmers adopting RFID technology gain a competitive advantage over farmers who continue to use traditional tracking methods. RFID offers many important benefits, including:
Save time and labor
Identify sick animals faster
More accurate tracking of cattle inventory
Why RFID is critical to livestock management?
A growing number of government regulations and programs are encouraging owners to adopt RFID tags for livestock management. For example, the U.S. government established the National Animal Identification System to promote the adoption of RFID tags to manage animal health. In 2020, the USDA gave away 8 million RFID ear tags to cattle and bison ranchers to encourage farmers to switch to RFID technology.
The application of RFID technology in the animal husbandry management industry is expanding, and the application of RFID in other industries is also expanding. If you want to know more about RFID or want to buy RFID readers or tags, please contact us.
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