Radio Frequency Identification Technology

In this section:

Dotted ArrowRapid and Accurate Animal Identification
Dotted ArrowRFID Tags and the Canadian Cattle Identification System

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Rapid and Accurate Animal Identification

The use of technologies such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags enables rapid and accurate animal identification. Unlike older bar code systems, the tag does not require “line of sight” reading to facilitate scanning. Use of passive RFID technology enables the tag to store the identification data without the need for batteries, ensuring the information is available for the life of the animal. The CCIA standards for ear tag manufacturers are strictly enforced and require that they be engineered to prevent reuse or tampering.

All ear tags are encoded with a 21-digit identification number following the ISO 11784 Code Structure. When the tag is exposed to a 134 kHz magnetic field from the RFID reader, the transponder is energized and transmits the encoded animal identification information.

U.S. Survey

Approximately 75% of U.S. retail and food service meat professionals surveyed said they would prefer to purchase beef produced from cattle with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) ear tags, which can be used to identify their herd of origin.*

* Survey of 201 U.S. retail and food service meat professionals commissioned to Techmonic Inc. in 2008.

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RFID Tags and the Canadian Cattle Identification System

Ear Tag Production
Only radio frequency identification ear tags approved by the CCIA may be used. Tags are required to meet specified standards including those related to durability to ensure they can be utilized through the lifespan of an animal.
Ear Tag Distribution
Distributors sell CCIA-approved RFID ear tags to cattle producers. Each tag is allocated a unique number which is used to establish the identity of an individual animal in the national database.
Cow-Calf Production
Each animal must have a CCIA ear tag when leaving the original herd. The CCIA and the Government of Canada recommend that all birth dates are registered with the Age Verification System.
Auction Mart
Cattle can not be sold at an auction without a CCIA ear tag. If cattle are exported to the U.S., the CCIA ear tag number and the date of processing for export must be reported to the national database.
Upon arrival at the feedlot, all cattle are checked to ensure the presence of an ear tag. The CCIA identification number may be used by the operator to track production information.
Age Verification
The CCIA database can be used to check the age of cattle which have birth dates recorded in the system. Electronic age verification can support certification of beef products to meet any age related requirements.
Meat Processing
Packers record and report to the CCIA numbers from tags on the cattle they receive. ID numbers from slaughtered cattle are then retired and this event is recorded in the national electronic database.
Audit and Enforcement
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is the government agency which is responsible for auditing and enforcing the Canadian Cattle Identification System.

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