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Canada's Cattle Go High-tech Using RFID

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Canada's Cattle Go High-tech Using RFID

Technology in Government, March 16, 2005

by Himmelsbach, Vawn

Originally Published:20050301.

When a case of Mad Cow is found, fingers start to point. And because it has taken so long to trace the source of the disease, the impact of the discovery during the extended period of uncertainty is enormous. Not anymore, at least in Canada.

That's because Canada is the first country in the world to make radio frequency ID tags mandatory for cattle, a technology that will allow food inspection officials to more effectively trace animal diseases, such as Mad Cow.

The Canadian Cattle Identification Program was rolled out in 2001 to identify cattle for the containment and eradication of disease - and for food safety concerns related to those diseases. The program involved identifying cattle by means of barcoded tags. The goal was to create an electronic registry to trace animals back to the herd of origin. Information is entered into a secure database at the point of sale. In the event of a disease outbreak, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has access to that database to track and stop movement of diseased animals.

But barcode technology has its limits.

RFID advantageous

When the program was initially rolled out, the goal was to be as cost-effective and as simple as possible, which is why it went with barcoded tags, says Chris Giffen, operations manager with the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA). But the long-term goal was to move to RFID technology.

RFID offers improvements over barcodes in the ease and speed of record-keeping, the reduction of paperwork, the elimination of recording errors and the elimination of line-of-sight reading. In the long-term, the program will allow the cattle industry to implement full animal movement tracking through the use of RFID technology at the production, auction mart and packing plant levels.

It is more expensive, though. RFID tags retail for about $3, while a visual tag with a barcode costs $1.20 to $1.50. This has caused some concern for cattle ranchers, as they have to shoulder the cost of the transition. However, Giffen expects the benefits of the technology will outweigh the additional cost.

Easy maintenance

"Barcoded tags on cattle get dirty, get wax on them, cannot be read, have to be cleaned, it's labour-consuming, it takes time," says Clay Ross, regional sales manager with AllFlex, a manufacturer of cattle tags whose RFID tag has been approved by the CCIA. An RFID reader, on the other hand, can read through meat, bone, flesh, hair and hide. "It's basically maintenance-free when it comes to high-speed processing lines in packing houses, it just automates everything," he says. "The animal could be jumping up and down and you could still read it. With a barcode that animal would have to be restrained."

Tag loss was also a problem. "Cattle are tough on tags," he says. "The smaller the tag the better the retention. This is a fairly small tag with fairly good retention and good readability so you've got a happy medium."

On Jan. 1 of this year, the Canadian Cattle Identification Program made the move to RFID tags mandatory; this is expected to further automate data collection and help transfer farm management information more quickly and accurately.

So far, the CCIA has approved six RFID ear tags for the program. Field and laboratory trials took place over the past two and a half years to evaluate retention, readability, insertion and pull-apart force, and freeze tests have recently been completed (the weather in Canada has made requirements different from, say, Australia). The tags are now available from approved tag manufacturers. The CCIA is recommending that all 2005 calves be tagged with one of the six approved RFID tags.

While the CCIA has stopped production of barcoded tags, it's allowing existing tags in the system to be sold up until July 1. At that point, the board of directors will set a timeline as to how long those tags will be grandfathered.

The CCIA allocates identification numbers to a manufacturer, then to a distributor, then to a dealer and then to a producer.

"That number can only be read - it cannot be written to, it cannot be erased, it cannot be changed, you cannot store anything in it," says Ross. But that number is "a key" that can be linked to other information, such as medical records. "In the past, packing houses would give you back information, but it was an average of your herd," he says. "With electronic tags they now have the ability - and they are doing it in some oases - where they will give you the individual grade of each animal."

Web services

The CCIA is continuing to make enhancements to the program to provide additional services to the cattle industry.

"The big one right now is age verification, being able to tie an actual birth date to that tag number," says Giffen. "We have a Web site where producers can log in and validate themselves and then submit birth date information. That will be online by the end of March."

The CCIA is also exchanging information with other countries including the U.S., Australia, Uruguay, Brazil and Japan on RFID technology and traceability. RFID is expected to become a universal standard, helping track cattle not only in Canada, but around the world.

It can also be used to track other animals, such as sheep, swine, bison and elk.

(C) 2005 Technology in Government. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights
Is anyone as irritated with these RF tags as I am? Seems to me they could have put the RF in the button, and still used a dangle tag. I know the idea is to not lose the tag, but even if it was designed with a weak spot so the dangle tag would break off before ripping the button out it would make more sense to me. I don't like to complain about a system that I think is a great idea, but it can never hurt to strive to improve.

If you put the back and the tag together before putting them in the ear, there is enough room left for the RFID tag to be put in all on one back. Its a bit tight, I tried a few this way to see how it works. Other wise with the RFID and visual ID tag in one ear it gets a bit crowded. Need to keep the other ear clear for the tattoo.

Oh about US being the largest consumer country in the world, I know China is has more consumers, but the USA spends the most on consumer goods currently, but is very rapidly heading for 2nd or 3rd place behind China and India.
We have a real winner in 11784 technology! We have companiews overseas the openly advertise they can dulpicate tags and numbers numbers!! A government agency did a ID test on 50,000 Kill cows last year. Seems some of the tags did not read and some of the numbers that were scanned did NOT match the number stamped on the outside of the RFID tag! We have a real winner in 11784 technology :roll: :roll: :roll:
ISO standards 11784 Seems some of the tags did not read and some of the numbers that were scanned did NOT match the number stamped on the outside of the RFID tag!**********Got to remember that the counterfiet industry is ready to sell cheap tags.THIS is the job of SMART DATABASES to record all tags and locate counterfieters via reg. of seller's RFID tags and the names of the orginal tag sellers.You have to have read how other countrys have this same MESS.*******Australian Microchip Standard
In Australia, we experienced many early problems relating to a lack of a common standard for RFID microchips in small animals. However, in spite of this problem, and in cooperation with the manufacturers, we managed to establish a very wide network of scanners which were capable of reading all the chips distributed by the three corporations, Destron-Fearing, AVID and Trovan.

On the international market, similar incompatibility problems let to the development of a standard type of chip and reader technology by the International Standards Organisation (ISO).

Following development of the International Standard, the Australian Standards Association was asked to develop the ISO standard to make it suitable for Australia and New Zealand. A consultative technical committee (IT 28), composed of manufacturer and user groups was established for this purpose.

The AVA has been one of the consumer groups represented on the technical committee (IT 28). The AVA representatives pointed out to the committee the need to separate the requirements of companion animal from farm and other animals, but this advice was initially ignored. It was only after many months of negotiation, that the Standards committee reluctantly conceded that companion animals, with the large numbers of animals already implanted with non-ISO compatible chips, needed to be dealt with in a separate manner to farm animals.

The major problem in adopting the International Standards 11784 and 11785 was that they failed to address the need to provide for scanners capable of reading the existing implanted non-ISO chips for the lifetime of the animal in addition to the newly implanted ISO compatible chips. The ISO standard only allowed for ISO scanners. The AVA, in conjunction with RSPCA (Australia) have tried to develop an amendment to make a true "universal scanner", capable of scanning all the chips in Australia, part of the Australian Standard. At the last meeting of IT 28, it was resolved to include this amendment.

The development of a commercial reader or scanner capable of reading all types of chip has been delayed by court actions between manufacturers over patents rights. In spite of this there are now several readers manufactured that will read all the common types of chip, including the ISO compatible chips. At present only one of these, the Destron Pocket Reader EX is commercially available in Australia.

At the May 1998 AVA Conference, Allflex introduced its ISO compatible chip and reader onto the market. Unfortunately, the Allflex reader is only capable of reading the ISO compatible standard chips, so a veterinarian purchasing this manufacturer's reader would have to also purchase or possess another reader capable of reading the other three types of chip to be able to effectively scan animals in Australia.

Two other companies selling chips on the Australian market, Destron-Fearing (AEIDS / Lifechip) and AVID (VMN), both manufacture and sell ISO compatible chips in other countries. However, both companies have cooperated with the AVA in delaying release of these chips onto the Australian market because they realize the full implications of implanting this type of chip before the reader network is established.

The Committee has agreed that there will be a moratorium of nine months following acceptance of the Australian Standard, to allow all stocks of non-ISO compliant chips to be distributed and to allow the users to set up a network of readers capable of detecting and reading ISO chips as well as non-ISO chips. After the nine month period only ISO-compliant chips should be imported.

The primary purpose of any sort of registration tag, whether it be a collar tag or implanted microchip is the accurate identification of animals and to enable them to be re-homed when they are lost. The obvious benefits of a microchip is its permanence and the ability to rapidly identify the ownership through a computerised central registry available at all hours, seven days a week and 365 days a year.

Registry protocols
This brings us to the next critical step in the negotiations; the establishment of suitable protocols for the operation of Australia-wide integrated microchip registries. The AVA policy initially endorsed only one registry, the Australian Animal Registry (AAR), based at the NSW Royal Agricultural Society. However, it soon became quite obvious that there were several commercial registries operating in Australia and that the AVA had no way to enforce the use of one central registry. In fact to do so would be against Australian anti-competition legilation. Two of the main registries, AAR and Companion Animal Records (CAR) worked cooperatively together, but some of the other registries were not so cooperative and the AVA saw the need to develop protocols for the operation of registries which would allow them to communicate while preserving the integrity of the data, commercial and legal privacy obligations.

The Victorian Division of the AVA, in conjunction with the RSPCA and Cat Protection society Victoria, developed a suitable set of operating protocols for microchip registries, vesting ownership of the data in an independent community based body. The AVA sought to have a modification of these operating protocols incorporated into the Australian Standard. It would appear that Standards Australia is extremely reluctant to incorporate any operating protocols for registries into its draft standard a separate but cross-referenced Standard for microchip registries. The AVA has pointed out that all registries need to integrate in some way to allow them to be effective across the whole country.

NSW Register of Companion Animals
The New South Wales Government has recently introduced a Companion animals Act, which makes microchipping an integral and mandatory part of the registration process for both dogs and cats. This Act has dictated that a registry will be set up in NSW for the purpose of holding data on behalf of the NSW Govt.

The regulations proposed for the Register of Companion Animals in NSW conform very broadly to the AVA protocols. Ownership of the data on this registry rests with the NSW Director General's dept. and this department has the power to limit access to the data to authorised personnel. Hopefully all registered veterinarians will be included as "authorised personnel". There is no obligation for the NSW registry to communicate with other microchip registries in Australia, although the AVA will continue to work towards such integration. All local government bodies and veterinarians need to be aware that microchip identification is an Australia wide scheme.Although legislation in any one State may influence details of the overall scheme, the national scheme must be fully integratedfor the recovery system to work effectively.

The NSW Dept. of Local Government has recently invited companies to register tenders to operate the registry of registered dogs and cats on behalf of the Government of NSW. All normal details of registration, including details of microchip identification will be included on this registry on behalf of all the 177 Councils in NSW. The NSW Act requires owners of dogs and cats to have their animals microchipped at the point of sale and later to include these details as part of the registration process at 6 months of age. From this information, the NSW Govt. will be able to identify all animals which are microchipped, but NOT registered with the local council.

Microchip in NSW to be ISO - compliant
The NSW Govt. will have the power to specify that the microchip used will have to comply with the Australian Standard. This will effectively mean that all companion animals in NSW will have to be implanted with a chip that conforms to the Australian ISO Standard. Animals already implanted with another type of chip will be able to use this chip identification for the purposes of registration and will NOT require re-implantation, but the details of this identification will have to be entered on the NSW Register of dogs and cats. The cost of this is unknown.

Implanters in NSW to be Govt. "approved"
The NSW Govt. will also require the NSW register to keep a list of "approved / accredited" implanters and records of bulk distribution of microchips from suppliers to implanters. It is highly probable that veterinarians will be included in the "approved implanters" but approval will not be limited to vets and some councils and welfare groups may choose to use "approved" lay implanters for registration purposes.

The AVA strongly believes that veterinarians are the most appropriate persons to implant companion animals and will be actively promoting this point of view in the community. AVA Accredited microchip centres will be part of this promotion.

AVA Accredited Microchip centres

One of the objectives of the AVA is to promote the veterinary profession to the community. Veterinarians, as the primary providers for the health and welfare of animals should be the prime implanters of microchip in companion animals. As part of this objective, AVA Accredited Microchip centres will be promoted to State and local government and the community as the preferred location for animal owners to have their companion animals implanted with an identification microchip. AVA Accredited Microchip centres will have to agree to comply with the following protocols in order to become accredited.

Protocols for AVA Accredited microchip centres AVA member practices seeking AVA Accreditation must agree to abide by the following protocols.
They must:

* Be an AVA member
* Agree to adhere to AVA's microchip policy
* Keep an acceptable inventory of microchips to meet normal demands
* Possess a scanner(s) capable of identifying all the commonly used chip technologies (This includes the ISO Standard)
* Scan the animal prior to implantation to ensure that it is not carrying a chip.
* Scan the chip before and after implantation to ensure it is functioning effectively.
* Forward registration details of the owner and animal to the registry within a maximum of five days, preferably the next working day.
* Register animals on an AVA endorsed microchip registry.
* Must only offer lifetime registration of microchip details. (Not to be confused with Council registration).
* Keep statistics of all animals microchipped and registered for audit purposes to assess the effectiveness of the scheme.
* Follow sterile procedure - single chip and sterile single use needle - in accordance with AVA microchip
* Report all adverse reactions to the AVA
* AVA Accredited microchip centres can use the AVA logo and advertise as an AVA Accredited Microchip Centre.
Just use www.scoringsystem.com/agri/ to solve the ISO problem with a Smart DAtabase from field to fork.Works for all exported/imported meats,crops, and any other product from their web page.I use it,even with my cell phone.

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