Degree Name

BS in Dairy Science


Dairy Science Department


Bruce Golden


My objective for this senior project was to perform an extensive review of literature on the history of animal identification and common motivations for identifying livestock, the different types and methods of identifying animals, with a special focus on radiofrequency identification technology (RFID) and how it works. A secondary objective was creating an instructional booklet for the implementation of a RFID based management system on the Cal Poly dairy. The identification of livestock for management or disease traceability has been a practice in one form or another for centuries (Blancou, 2001). Today, animal identification is of great importance to herd management and disease traceability (Voulodimos et. al., 2010, Murphy et al., 2008, Marchant, 2002). The type of animal identification used plays a role in the effectiveness and efficiency of herd management and disease traceability. In the 1940’s animal identification programs existed as part of an extensive program to eradicate bovine brucellosis from the national cowherd (Murphy et al., 2008). Over time methods have evolved from biblical evidence of Jacob branding his livestock, to ear tags, ear notching, biometrics, and RFID technology today (NABRE, Genesis 30.37-42, Neary and Yager, 2002). RFID is a great method for identifying livestock for both herd management and disease traceability. In combination with herd management software, RFID systems can include detailed information like medical treatment records, animal performance data, and record animal movements (Ruiz-Garcia and Lunadei, 2011). These same records are necessary for disease trace back. RFID facilitates this by having a unique code for each transponder. Transponders can be embedded in plastic ear tags, covered in a biomedical glass capsule for subcutaneous injection, or placed into a bolus to be retained in a cow’s forestomach (Conill et al., 2000). The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 11784 describes the code structure for a standardized transponder. According to Kampers et al. (1999), a standardized transponder can handle sixty-four bits of identification code. Within the sixty-four identification bits, a code must be stored that can identify an animal uniquely worldwide. ISO standard 11785 describes the technical concept of the communication that all transponder manufactures must adhere to in order to ensure the standardization of RFID. There are two different systems for RFID tags, full-duplex (FDX) and half-duplex (HDX) (Kampers et al., 1999). The principle differences between FDX and HDX are the generation of operating voltage, the coding of information, and the timing of the information transmission (Artmann, 1999). I found that the benefits of RFID technology over previous methods of animal identification to be quite clear. RFID technology offers a much more streamlined, efficient, and humane way to identify animals correctly. From a historical stand point, no previous technology offers the quick and easy trace back that RFID technology offers. The main driver in this quick traceability with RFID is the utilization of a main identification database that would contain the needed information for trace back. My research led to the implementation of a RFID based herd management protocol that can be found in appendix A.

Included in

Dairy Science Commons