Ground-breaking technology in agriculture is out of the board room and into the grazing fields. Developments in technology have allowed data to be gathered, exchanged, or stored through wireless connections like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and more. Agricultural tech companies took note of that and invented smart tags for dairy cows.
Dairy Farmers can track their herds with the use of smart ear tags. The tags are GPS, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi enabled. These smart ear tags help the owners to track and trace their cattle location, movement and grazing pattern. They can also monitor health and behavior of livestock.
A few years earlier, the dairy farmers used various visual identification methods like earmarks, ear tags made of plastic, steel, rubber with different colors, or tattooing.
With the help of smart tags, farmers now have a better and more accurate way of tracking their animals. So, how do these smart ear tags are helping dairy farmers? Let's explore further!
How do Farmers Keep Track of Cows?
The primary purpose of cattle ear tags is to help farmers keep track of their livestock. Keeping an account of your livestock, especially in an open grazing ground, can be challenging. Animals may exhibit strange patterns at times and wander away from the rest of the herd. Tracking their GPS location ensures you can find your animal in case it gets lost and allows you to determine how much of the field you can allocate to a specific number of livestock. This is very handy if you have a big farm and a large pasture.
Here are a few methods you can apply to track your livestock.
Cattle microchip tracking
Microchip trackers can transmit and receive frequency signals. The chips are made of a micro-transceiver sealed by a glass body. The capsule has an anti-migratory cap to hold it firm where it is placed. The microchip uses low radio frequency signals to go online. This means the capsule doesn't use batteries, which makes it a passive electronic source.
Smart tracking collars
Tracking collars in the USA are based on two types, radio-based or GPS-based. Smart collars have the ability to track, train among other functions.
Cattle ear tags
These tags allow you to keep an account of your cows using only your cellphone. It's a 24-hour monitoring system that never sleeps or gets tired. Smart tags collect data on your animal's health, activity levels, and other crucial behaviors, including reproduction.
With smart ear tags, dairy farmers can make quick data-driven decisions on their cow's well-being. The data collected can allow producers to have predictive data to maintain a healthy stock.
How Do Smart Ear Tags Work?
Using a smart ear tag for cattle is like having a personal assistant who is quicker and more efficient.
The smart tags for cattle are GPS-enabled, meaning they allow farmers to track the location of each cow remotely through the capability of the internet of things (IoT).
The farmer receives data and GPS coordinates from each smart tag in intervals from the satellite. From ear tags, the data is sent over to LoRa gateway through the service provider network. And from there, the data is sent over to the cloud that is accessible through the end user devices.
The cow ear tag can send out alerts to cattle owners through on-board accelerometers. In case of any suspicious activity, like theft or any other disturbance, the sudden movement of the animal in distress triggers an alert. This helps farmers to respond quickly, which can save a lot of time, money, and effort. Similarly, if there's an animal that has been stolen or missing, its location can be tracked in real-time.
Design and Implementation
Inside some of the most efficient smart ear tags, there is GPS chip, the LoRa (low power and long range) Antenna, the QR code which is unique for every cow, battery and a solar panel to charge the ear tag.
Generally, smart tag has a CC3200 component that works as a processor and a Wi-Fi transmitter. CC3200 is responsible for internalizing, processing, and sending the message recovered from other components.
A smart tag has a high-precision non-contact temperature sensor (TMP102) that measures the cow's ear temperature. A film pressure is also fitted in to measure food intake. The smart ear tag collects and sends all the information gathered in a topic message form to an MQTT server where producers can receive the data through subscribing.
What is MQTT?
MQTT stands for Message Queuing Telemetry Transport. It is standard messaging protocol for Internet of Things (IoT).
Most cow ear tags are battery-powered and have a long usage span of up to two years before being renewed. The features stated above apply to most ear tags, but some have a few more bells and whistles you can access.
Dairy farmers have the option to tag one or both ears; once you tag the cow, you may print information onto the tags either with a marker pen or a laser printer. Tagging a cow does not hurt the animal; sure enough, they may feel a slight pinch, but it fades away quickly. Most dairy farmers tag cows while they are calves, meaning they are tagged earlier on in life.
Just by learning the design and implementation, you can gather a few advantages cattle ear tags have to offer, and here are a few more benefits.
Benefits of Smart Ear Tags
The list goes on and on; the benefits Smart ear tags can offer dairy farmers are unmatched compared to older forms of tagging, which included branding and were more harmful to the animals.
Other tracking methods, like manually tracking herds with a drone and UTV or ATV, are much more expensive and may take more time in tracking and providing accurate information.
How do Smart Ear Tags Monitor Cattle Health?
The sensors in smart ear tags constantly keep track of the cow's health, fertility, and nutrition. Using manual ways to trace a sick cow can take a long time, especially if you have a big herd.
Suppose a farmer has cows at high risk of rumen acidosis; smart ear tags can identify that fast before it's too late. You track your cows' health data from one receiver that works throughout an entire herd. It sends and receives signals from each cow with a smart tag on it—this way, smart cattle ear tags deliver advanced behavior-tracking and biometric data.
The ear tags monitor the body movement of the cows and the temperature, too. A farmer can track the cow's location and health condition and can attend to it immediately.
For example, if a farmer made some changes to the feed, the dairy cow might respond poorly. The smart tag alerts the farmer that the eating pattern has changed; this shows that the diet affects the cow, leading to severe effects. Finding the sick cow among a large herd is much faster with smart tags.
How are Cows Identified with Smart Ear Tags?
Using smart ear tags by dairy farmers makes it possible to track the specific data of each cow they're looking after. The QR code inside the smart ear tag is unique for each cow, which contains information such as age, health condition, milk production, and the cow's current location. Some smart tags can provide more details, such as genetic abnormalities, body condition score, among other useful information.
The cow tracker allows the effective management of the herd in real-time. Data collected and stored from each animal helps understand how good or bad a cow's health is. This is helpful when you want to separate a cow from the herd because of any reason.
All the data gathered from the tags act as collective information to improve the management of the cattle. This can assure that any cow that needs special care isn't accidentally ignored as long as it has the smart ear tag.
Best Smart Tags for Dairy Cows
If you are interested in purchasing a quality smart ear tag, here is a quick review of some of the best the market offers.
Quantified Ag Tag
Quantified Ag is an advanced agricultural tech company that develops next-generation ear tags for tracking and monitoring your stock. The tag delivers the behavior, advanced biometric data, and background information.
They have a beginner-friendly platform that allows users to track animal data on one receiver throughout their field. You can send or receive information to any animal. The tag itself is impact-resistant and is made of a steel coating. Quantified Ag offers affordable prices per head cost, and the tags are reusable; this also reduces the cost if you handle them carefully.
- Lithium battery
- Impact resistant
- Temperature sensor
- Detects animal movement
- Animal data accessible through cloud
Ceres offers a life-changing cattle management smart ear tag. The ceres tag developed a new way of tracking cattle that matched current dairy farming practices. The idea of using a satellite-connected tag was born. In collaboration with low earth orbit satellite companies, Ceres tag ensures their tags are always connected without needing additional structures like satellite towers.
Information is collected, and users can access it via software you can download on your smartphone. Because of the longitudinal collection of data, users can account for animal trends and establish behavior analytics.
- Satellite data transmission
- Data is stored in a cloud
- Long battery life of over 10 years
- Data can be accessed through various softwares for better livestock management
- No additional infrastructure for communication
You can buy Ceres Tags online here
HerdDogg Smart ear tag
Herddog recently launched smart ear tags for livestock that use Bluetooth technology. The tags can capture data from up to 100 yards in the distance and deliver real-time tracking and biometric data.
There are two patented options available based on your requirement. The WelfareTag is for animal's biometric tracking and has a life of around 2 years. The other option is Tracetag, that is used for animal identification and location tracking and can work up to 5 years.
- LED Beacon that can be controlled through smart phone
- Superior range of around 100 yards as compared to other RFID tags
- Data can be transmitted to HerdDogg Cloud platform
- Ambient Temperature
You can order HerdDogg Smart Tags here
Allflex Monitoring Ear Tag Flex
Allflex is considered by many to be the industry leader in farm management, animal identification, and monitoring. They provide a wide variety of customizable solutions to help farmers better safeguard the health and wellbeing of their cattle while optimizing the production of a healthy and sustainable food supply.
- Choice of neck or ear tag
- Battery life of around 3 years
- Provides health, reproductive, feed, and group monitoring
- Water proof
Cattle ear tags have become a popular trend in the agricultural world. This technology is improving and advancing in terms of battery lifetime and coverage. As you have seen above, this technology deserves all the praise it gets. Smart ear tags are the best option if you are in the market for a more efficient way to manage your livestock and get real-time data.