FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About RFID Tags, Readers, Electronic ID Systems, Tag Placement



What is the difference between NAIS, PVP and QSA?

One of the biggest misunderstandings in our country is that some think that PVP (Process Verified Program) and QSA (Quality Systems Assessment) are part of the NAIS (National Animal Identification System which is in the process of being restructured). In fact, PVP and QSA are private-industry programs aimed at getting you more money for your cattle if you decide to participate in them.
Both QSA and PVP are routes to age-verification for government export programs and are supported by quality-management systems that document specific processes in such a way that auditable claims can be made about a producers cattle in accordance with internationally recognized standards.
A PVP company must control all promotional materials and have those materials approved by USDA and they can also use the "USDA Process Verified" shield. PVP and QSA both require some type of tamperproof, unique, non-repeatable ID number to be installed at the ranch of origin whether these tags be visual, electronic or a combination of the two. These programs require records to be kept which will verify the age and source of the animals. The QSA program requires all natural handling of the cattle which means no antibiotics. More information can be found on both of these programs at PVP and QSA Program Verification Activites .

Where can I Register my Premises?

You can register for a premise ID number through your tribe or state Dept. of Agriculture.

Why should I use RFID on my herd, and how do I get started?

There are several good reasons to use RFID technology on your herd. The bottom line is that if you are serious about improving your herd, raising your profit potential, and complying with federal and state regulations, there is no better investment than an RFID system. Your local Extension Agent likely has a good base of information to help you with this decision and getting started. Other good sources for information would be your state Department of Agriculture or the USDA/APHIS web page.

Why use electronic ID (eID)?

EID provides the linkage necessary for converting data into accessible and useable information with a greater degree of accuracy and timeliness.

Is my private information stored in the tag?

NO. The tag only contains a wire coil which returns a single unique identification number when energized by a reader. No other information is stored in the tag.

Will my tag work with other readers? Will my reader recognize other tags?

YES. The International Organization for Standardization has established a specific standard for RFID which clearly lays out the technical requirements for compliance. Many tags AND readers are FULLY COMPLIANT WITH THE ISO STANDARD, so that any truly ISO compliant tag or reader should be interchangeable and functional with other ISO compliant systems. The exception to this is a user who has an older half-duplex reader. Most newer readers are full-duplex readers which can read full-duplex or half-duplex tags.

Why use a tag rather than an implant or a bolus?

The big issue is recovery at the packing plant. Implants can break and migrate, boluses have similar problems. Packing plants generally avoid the expense and liability of recovering wandering identification. Ear tags however are easily recovered and kept out of the food process.

How do I get information back, and will I be blamed if something goes wrong?

The issue is that the cattle industry has simply changed forever, and not only with regard to accountability. If you are going to offer cattle for consumption in this marketplace, you and they MUST be identified. A bonus to this scenario is that you can retrieve performance information back from industry partners so that you can improve your herd and offer a better product to those partners. The market will show loyalty to producers of quality animals so the cost is small and the return potential is great.
An important consideration in attaching responsibility in the event of a disease outbreak is the ability to verify that you are not responsible for a particular occurrence or that the animals in question did NOT come from your premises.

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FAQs-RFID Basic Terms

What is alphanumeric ?

Data made up of both alphabetical and numeric characters. For example, the data sequence C254G6 represents an alphanumeric string. Often, this term includes other printable characters such as punctuation marks.

What is a Data accumulator ?

Any device (whether it be wireless or wired) such as a laptop or handheld computer or scale head that is capable of accepting data from the reader.

What is eID?

Electronic identification.

What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification. Any electronic identification system comprised of a scanner/reader/interrogator and a transponder that can read or write data content using a specified radio frequency. Radio Frequency ID reads through non-metallic materials and does not require line-of-sight. It can also withstand harsh environments.

What is an eTag or RFID tag?

An animal identification device containing an electronic chip. Sometimes called a transponder.

What is a transponder?

TRANSmitter/resPONDER- The transponder becomes activated when placed inside a magnetic field generated by an antenna. The induced current in the coil in turn charges the capacitor located inside the chip. Depending upon the transfer protocol, the chip transmits its identification code.

What is a coil?

A coil is the component of the electronic chip, which consists of very thin wire wound 500 to 1000 times into a loop that has a diameter of 20 to 30 mm.

What is a chip?

The electronic chip ismade up of an integrated circuit and a capacitor that is attached to two ends of a coil.

What is a passive tag?

The scanner/reader/interrogator must excite the transponder at a specific radio frequency in order to transmit tag data content. These type of RFID tags rely upon the energy generated by the scanner/reader/interrogator in order to transmit tag data content.

What is OTP?

One-Time Programmable. This is a specific chip design by which the device manufacturer programs the contents of the electronic chip - often to correlate the eID number with the visual identification number.

What is ISO?

International Organization for Standardization. This includes a worldwide federation of national standards from about 140 countries and was developed in 1947. ISO is a non-governmental organization.

What are ISO standards ?

ISO standards are documented agreements containing technical specifications or other precise criteria to be used consistently as guidelines, rules or definitions of characteristics, to ensure that products, materials, services and processes are fit for their intended purpose. They do not have legal status of their own and regulators may adopt standards in a modified form to suit local conditions or requirements. The intent is to produce standards that are internationally compatible, clear and consistent. ISO does not have the responsibility to determine compliance with ISO standards.

Which ISO standards apply to the agricultural field?

ISO 11784 represents the international standard for the structure of the data numeric architecture of the 64 bit code for Radio Frequency Identification of Animals.
ISO 11785 represents the accepted protocol for transmission between the scanner/reader/interrogator and the transponder(tag). This standard defines the timing sequence for both HDX(half duplex) and FDX (full duplex) air interfaces.

What is HDX ?

HDX is one-way at a time signal transmission. An HDX transponder is equipped with a capacitor, which is charged by the voltage that develops over the antenna in the activation field. The transponder initiates the return signal to the scanner/reader/interrogator only after the end of the interrogation signal has been received and only after the storage capacitor has been fully charged in the transponder. This signal is only sent once.

What is FDX/FDX-B?

FDX is a two-way signal that starts transmitting its code as soon as the FDX transponder has received sufficient energy and keeps repeating the code during activation. FDX functions better without the interruption of the activation field necessary for HDX. FDX-B is the best type to transmit through noise interference sources and is most commonly used in livestock RFID systems.

What is a Scanner/Reader/Interrogator?

The scanner/reader/interrogator transmits and receives radio frequency signals, contains a control unit to execute commands and incorporates an interface to transfer data. It also receives commands and responds to software commands from the computer. The scanners/readers/interrogators are available as handheld or stationary. Some factors that can affect the range of the scanner/reader/interrogator are:

  • Power available to the reader

  • Power available within the tag to respond

  • Antenna characteristics and size

  • Competition from other devices emitting electronic signals

What Data Carrying Options are there with RFID?
  • Identifier-Simply to identify the animal by number.

  • Portable data files-More in-depth software applications.

What is ICAR ?

International Committee for Animal Recording. ICARs primary mission is to standardize procedures and methods used in recording of livestock data and establish test procedures for the approval of equipment and methods for recording data.

What is a Manufacturer/Country Code?

It is a three-digit code defined by ISO 11784 standard. ISO 3166 standard is used to determine country codes.

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What type of software will I need simply to read tags?

For simple reading of tags only, the user who has a computer with a Microsoft platform can simply go the "Start: Programs: Accessories: Hyper Terminal". There is a bit of a set-up process to make this work but the reader can then read to this Hyper Terminal and the information can then be copied and pasted into an Excel spreadsheet or other program of choice where additional information about the animal can also be added if desired.
A wedge program is also an acceptable alternative and normally costs approximately $250/ The wedge program works in the background of the computer and when set up will add the tag number directly into whichever program the user has opened to be used for the readings (i.e. Excel, Access, Word).

What if I want to collect more extensive data about each animal?

There are numerous software programs available with a variety of options to meet a user's needs-from the cow/calf producer to feedlot operations to packing plants, etc. "Cow Sense" is one such program which is a well thought out program or feel free to browse our Links page for ideas.

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Where should I place the eTag in the ear?
The tag should be placed in the left ear between the middle veins of the ear and about 1 1/2 to 2 inches from the head. See image below for location.

Tag Retention Tips for Visual and RFID Ear Tags

  • Always make a NEW hole

  • Make a precise incision-NOT a puncture wound

  • Attach the tag TOWARD the head (female button/tag on inside of ear, male button on back of ear)

  • Avoid penetrating cartilage and blood vessels

  • Always clean equipment to avoid disease transfer

  • Make sure the button (on two-piece tags) is on BACK of ear

  • Always use NEW tags

  • Avoid using heavy tags

  • Support the ear of newborns when tagging

  • Remove twine from hay bales to minimize snagging

  • Visual ID tags should be placed approximately 1 1/2" further from the head than the RFID eartags. (approximately 3" from head on mature cattle)

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