The need for improving cattle management has contributed to the popular use of EID, or RFID tags for cattle. As Beef magazine notes, due to growing concerns for source verification from the calf to the consumer, the beef industry believes the better way may be electronic identification.
Pros and Cons of Electronic IDs for Cattle
EIDs are small tags put into the ear with a 15-digit number unique to each one printed on them. The tag numbers are then scanned using an EID reader. They’re made to last throughout the animal’s life and offer many benefits, but before making a decision whether to use EIDs, you’ll still want to consider the pros and cons.
More reliable. Electronic IDs for cattle offer a more reliable kind of identification as visual tags can easily get caught up on fencing or lost in other ways. But EID tags are button-like, small, and designed for the best retention possible. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use visual tags. Matched pair tags are available, allowing both to be used, with the unique identification number printed on them. That’s particularly helpful when using a cattle management software as animals can easily be looked up by either the EID or the visual ID.
Quick identification. It’s much quicker to identify an animal in the chute with an EID, as all you have to do is scan the tag using a reader rather than requiring the animal to be totally still to read a tattoo number or visual tag. That can be a big time-saver, and as you probably know, saving time means saving money when it comes to labor costs and more.
Minimizing errors. By scanning ID tags instead of writing down every ear tag number, it provides more benefits when it comes to saving time and minimizes errors. As the cattle are being put onto a trailer or being worked, the tag can quickly be scanned while they’re moving.
Memory capabilities. Today’s advanced EID readers contain memory capabilities that allow the scanned EID data to be downloaded onto a computer. That’s something that is highly advised by most cattle experts as it decreases the need to have a computer or other additional equipment at a working chute or a cattle pen just to be able to see the number. A list of scanned EIDs can easily be downloaded after working cattle. Additionally, data related to health treatments or updated pasture locations can be applied.
Certified program access. An increasing number of industry programs have required EID animal records for export requirements and traceability. You’ll be able to capture more value-add per head for management that you’re already taking care of.
They come at a cost. You will have to purchase ear tags and EID readers, which means they obviously come at a cost; however, over the long haul due to better accuracy and significant time saving, it’s likely to save money.
For hobby herds and pets, they aren’t necessary. If you’re raising livestock as part of a business or want to keep track of how the herd is performing, EIDs are really the way to go. But for a hobby herd or pets, identification probably isn’t necessary, particularly if you know them by sight.