RFID for Cattle Identification & Management

EID Tags - Electronic Identification Ear Tags for Cattle IdentificationAs unbelievable as this may sound, NO safeguards have been put in place in the U.S. since the 2004 outbreak of Mad Cow disease. The United States still DOES NOT have livestock traceability, while countries such as Brazil, Paraguay, & South Korea have proven low-cost RFID based-solutions in place. American's have no idea where the meat we eat comes from. In episode 4 of The RFID Network TV series, we continue our coverage of using RFID for food safety.

In 2004, the U.S. Government asked farmers to use EID or Electronic Identification ear tags on all their cattle. This request was part of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) spurred by the discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States. Problem is - the EID tags they told farmers to use don't work very well. If you tried to use an EID tag to identify an animal, you had to walk right up to that animal and stick a long rod within a few inches of the animal’s ear, which is not always very easy. Clearly, the designers never tried to get a 1200 lbs cow to stay still after giving it a vaccination.

Read our EID Tag Review

The RFID Network TV Series #4: How RFID Improves Food Safety: Beef

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Animal Identification Number (AIN) Tags also had to be visible, which typically meant tagging the animal a second time. In addition to these challenges, farmers were concerned that other people could access their confidential information and so only about 30 percent of cattle producers tried using these EID tags. Even so, the majority of the EID ear tags on cattle in U.S. and Canada are using this older generation technology.

All EID tags use radio frequency identification, or RFID, technology. The first international standards used specifically for animal identification are ISO 11784 and ISO 11785. RFID standards have improved a lot since this standards were introduced and today farmers all over the world are now using the next generation RFID technology for Electronic Identification of Cattle, which uses the ISO/IEC 18000-6C standard. This is the same standard being used by retailers for global supply chain operations and traceability, which includes fresh produce and other food items. Not only does Ear tags using this standard meet the Animal Disease Traceability criteria for official identification for individual animals, but farmers can identify all the animals in a herd faster (hundreds per minute) and from further away (4 meters or more). Most importantly, the next generation cattle management systems that use this standard keep farmer’s confidential information secure so they’re in control of who sees their records.

The Next Generation EID Tags

EID Tag Testing and Review

The Cattle Identification and The RFID Network teams have put together this review of EID tags (RFID ear tags) for use on cattle. We tested a variety of Full Duplex and Half Duplex EID tags from Allflex as well as UHF EID tags. All EID tags tested are USDA certified, tamper evident, and meet the Animal Disease Traceability criteria for official identification of individual animals. The average price is calculated from quotations from multiple US suppliers.

EID Tag Review

Based on our test results and other information provided by the manufacturers, we've put together a summary review of important features.

  LF Ear Tag for Cattle Identification
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UHF Ear Tag for Cattle Identification
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RFID Standard(s) Used

Read Distance using
wand or handheld RFID Reader
Read Distance using
fixed-position RFID Reader
Ear Tag Read Rate
Tag Memory

Tag Data Security

Programming Cycles

Operating Temperature
Expected Life:
Average Street Price

Low Frequency (LF)
134 kHz
ISO 11784
ISO 11785
up to 2 inches
(5 cm)
up to 2.5 feet
(75 cm)
One (1) at a time
982 as per ICAR assigned Manufacturers code


Only programmable by tag manufacturer
-0°C to +50°C
Passive (no battery)
10 years
$2.10 USD each
Ultra High Frequency (UHF)
860 - 960 MHz
ISO/IEC 18000-6C
EPC Global Gen2 (V 1.2.0)
up to 12 feet
(3.75 m)
up to 21 feet
(6.4 m)
Hundreds per minute
96-EPC Bits (extensible to 480 Bits)
512 User Bits
64 Bit Unique TID
32 Bit Access and
32 bit Kill Passwords
Up to 100,000 cycles

-20°C to +55°C
Passive (no battery)
10 years
$3.49 USD each

When the results are placed next to each other, it's clear today’s EID / RFID technology is better than is was in 2004. Based on all of the advantages, our team recommends the next generation EID tags. Our teams are not alone in our assessment. The Governments of Brazil & Paraguay have mandated the use of these electronic ID tags and have already deployed 3 million of the next generation tags on cattle. The Korean Government has also mandated the use of these tags for all cattle and is in the process of implementing them.

Are you currently using or considering RFID technology?

A thirty minute call with one of The RFID Network subject matter experts can save you months of research, the expense of purchasing hardware, software, or RFID tags that do not meet your requirements or operate as the manufacturer claims. We can directly introduce you to the suppliers with the highest customer satisfaction ratings.

Our team is comprised of RFID experts with 10 to 25 years of RFID experience that are hands-on evaluating and testing the latest RFID technology in real world environments.

We provide highly specialized, 3rd party, vendor neutral professional services, unmatched in the industry, which includes:

  • RFID technology selection (what hardware, software, or RFID tags best fits your requirements)
  • RFID vendor selection (what companies should you purchase from)
  • 3rd party project review (are you being overcharged for RFID products or consulting services?)
  • Executive Briefings (how will RFID technology benefit your specific business opreations)
  • Writing RFP's and reviewing submitted proposals that include RFID

For more information on how we can assist you please contact us or get started today with Ask an Expert: RFID Network Telephone Support

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0 #1 Doug Hill 2012-04-25 22:18
This is extremely interesting. In Denmark we have applied the same construct on pigs and have tagged 10,000 pigs in a feasibility study using, i.e. an EPC SGTIN GEN 2 UHF tag.

100% read rates over a greater distance than LF achieved.
UHF tags less costly than LF
Anti-collison in UHF better than LF

See eID construct in this link:

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