Mooove Over, Old Technology

Livestock Tag Readers Get a Big Upgrade Thanks to New RFID Technology

A new RFID system that is currently undergoing testing in Canada is making the process of tracking cattle much easier and faster than ever before. The new Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) tags are being developed at the SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, and they represent a significant leap forward for the industry.

New capabilities to make tracking livestock easier

The new system can read the tags from as far away as 30 feet, which eliminates the need for a squeeze chute. In addition, it can actually track and record data from several animals at once as they move from pen to pasture and back again.

This can also make a big difference should a disease outbreak occur. Trace-back would just be a matter of a few keystrokes instead of spending days trying to determine which animals have been exposed.

Affordable and cost-saving

The first tags should cost around $5 a piece, while the reader system and software should run around $10,000. The lead scientist of the project, Glen Kathler, estimates that the average feedlot in Alberta could save nearly $90,000 by adopting the technology, and he expects the savings to increase as the technology becomes more widespread and costs go down.

The fact that the animals will not have to pass through a squeeze chute could save about $14 per animal because the stress of the chute has been shown to reduce the animals’ body weight by one percent.

The SAIT RFID Application Development Lab is only one of three in the world that is ISO-certified for new animal-tracking technologies. The Alberta Livestock and Meat Agency gave the UHF-RFID project $950,000. The technology is currently being tested on feedlots, transport trucks, auction marts, and ranches in British Columbia and Alberta.