RFID Overview

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Radio Frequency Identification Overview

What is Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)?
RFID, also known as electronic identification (EID), is an automatic identification and data-capture system comprised of one or more readers and one or more transponders (tag) that transmit and receive on a specific radio frequency. RFID gives producers the ability to quickly, easily and accurately capture animal information and review and/or record information into a record-keeping program or database of their choice. RFID will also allow for more timely traceability of animal location and background in the event of a disease outbreak.

How RFID Works
Low frequency (LF) RFID/EID tags for livestock are considered passive tags because they have no battery or power source of their own. The tags are activated when they pass within the transmission field of a reader. The tag then absorbs power from the reader and returns its unique number to the reader.
One type of low-frequency RFID livestock tags is FDX-B (Full Duplex) which causes the return signal from the transponder to be initiated as soon as the interrogation signal is received and the smoothing capacitor has been charged. As long as the interrogation signal is maintained, the return signal is repetitively sent to the reader.
Another type of low-frequency EID livestock tag is the HDX (Half Duplex) with which the return signal begins after the end of the interrogation signal has been received and the storage capacitor has been fully charged. The message is sent one way at a time so that the storage capacitor discharges its energy content after the code is sent. HDX tags have a slightly longer read range but are also somewhat more expensive.
A newer type of EID tag is the UHF Gen 2  tag which has a much greater read range, currently up to 10 feet.
Many of these tags are available in a Tamperproof design and can also be paired with visual ID tags with the matching 15-digit EID number printed on the visual tag as well.
Please take a look at our Electronic Tags page for more information on the various types of electronic tags available.

Depending on one's intended use, readers can range from simple hand-held devices to complex multi-panel systems that can automatically capture EID tags as they pass through the reading field.
There are several types of hand-held stick readers available for portable operation from several different manufacturers. The read range on the various models of reader can vary from a few inches to 18 inches for low-frequency tags, partially dependent on external factors and quality of tag device. Most of these models allow for Bluetooth capabilities, eliminating the need to be tethered to a computer for downloading information. Some will store the information within the reader for later download to the computer program.
Panel reader systems are usually permanently installed in high-volume processing areas and allow for automated capture of EID tag information without the need for a person to stand in place with a hand-held reader. In many environments, read ranges of approximately three feet can be expected when using high performance LF  EID tags. Panel reading systems can range from a few hundred dollars for a small, single panel system to well over $10,000 for more complex multi-lane, multi-panel systems.
Please take a look at our Portable and Hand-Held Readers page for several varieties of stick readers that we offer as well as smaller pocket readers which are typically used for reading microchips.

A critical component of the EID system is the computer as well as the software. The use of EID tags allows for automation in the collection and analysis of production data which can improve the health and profitability of all livestock operations.
EID systems are compatible with farm and ranch equipment used for daily livestock management practices and can be easily integrated with electronic livestock scale heads, dairy equipment and auto-feeding systems.
There are many software management programs available for your computer to help you keep track of a variety of data and information about each animal in your herd.
There are also many web-based Data Services Provides who offer on-line systems that provide data and analysis tools to help streamline your livestock operation.
More information can be found on some of these programs and providers at our Links page.

You may also find more information on RFID terms, ear tag placement and some other questions you may have at our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page.

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