There’s been little tinkering of late with the nuts and bolts of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology, says Kansas State University’s (KSU) Dale Blasi. But the usability of the technology for livestock tracking purposes is improving, says the professor and Extension specialist who serves as manager and director of KSU’s Beef Stocker Unit and Animal Identification Knowledge Laboratory .
“We know a lot more today about the proper setup of these systems to maximize readability,” he says.
“And, the price points have come down on the full-duplex tags to $1.75, while the price of half-duplex tags has come down to about $2. That’s about a 25¢ reduction on each in the past few years, he adds.
Blasi says he’s seen a “very robust” increase in RFID use in the U.S. dairy industry, with development of software that leverages the power of RFID in minimizing labor inputs and increasing accuracy of cow management. On the beef side, he says growth in RFID use has mostly been tied to value-added programs, such as NHTC (non-hormone treated cattle) and the Process-Verified Programs. “But I expect adoption of the technology to continue to grow, as more producers come to realize the labor savings the system can bring to a beef operation,” he says.
For the ninth straight year, BEEF magazine is teaming up with KSU to deliver the industry’s most complete survey of firms offering RFID  technology for cattle-industry application. This survey includes information supplied by 32 RFID technology firms. Some offer hardware – scale heads, RFID readers, tags, etc. Others primarily offer software to accumulate the cowherd data collected by the hardware. Others are one-stop shops offering the whole package – hardware, software and data storage.
But the data presented in the accompanying chart is just a fraction of what's available. There's a whole lot more awaiting readers at www.beefstockerusa.org , a cooperative website between BEEF and KSU (click on “RFID Survey” at the top of the page).
There you'll find an interactive version developed by KSU's Dale Blasi, Kevin Dhuyvetter and Lois Schreiner. Browsers can click on the company's name for background and contact information on the firm; website links; and the firm's partners, goals and mission. Also included are product and service details; specifications for use; compatible equipment; fees; and an Excel spreadsheet calculator to estimate the costs of an RFID system for your operation.