RFID Cattle Back Tag Traceability

Focus Area: Risk Prevention & Risk Response

Project Title: Ultra High Frequency (UHF) Radio Frequency Identification Device (RFID) Cattle Back Tags, Enhancing the Traceability and Inventory Management of Cattle

Status: Complete (2021)

Overview: Animal disease traceability is important to ensuring a rapid response when animal disease events take place; a reliable traceability system reduces the number of animals and the response time involved in a disease investigation, and thus reduces the economic impact on owners and affected communities. For the cattle industry, visual-only tags do not meet the traceability requirements of APHIS’ Animal Disease and Traceability program. In response, this project aims to facilitate more rapid traceability of cattle in an animal disease event as they move through multiple premises along the cattle production value chain. UHF RFID tags are being piloted at markets in Bryan, Navasota, Buffalo, and San Saba, and in slaughterhouses and feedlots across the state of Texas. This pilot study will determine 1) the effectiveness of the technology for traceability and 2) the impact on business operations, including cattle inventory management, management costs, and attitudes toward adoption. Outcomes from this study will be used to support the implementation of RFID technology as the official identification method for cattle to achieve effective and efficient disease traceability.

Project Duration: 1 Year

IIAD Project Team: Jessica Cargill, Sarah Manning,Dee Ellis

Outcomes, Solutions, & Impact: The specific goals of this pilot program are to measure the effectiveness of the technology for traceability and to also capture the user experience of the new technology. To date, over 242,000 back tags have been applied to cattle at sale barns and recorded by fixed tag readers as the technology is integrated into the day-to-day operations of each participating location. Additionally, we have demonstrated the ability to correlate the UHF back tags to other official identification (over 2,000 permanent identification associations to date).

To ensure the efficacy of this technology, the project team has accomplished the following:

  • Visited sale barns to perform tag retention audits
  • Participated & collected data in a value chain sale-to-slaughter case study
  • Conducted interviews with sale barn and order buyer personnel to gain an understanding of their experience in terms of installation, feasibility, and acceptability of the new technology, and the positive and negative impact to “business as usual”, including cattle inventory management, costs, and efficiency of operations