One of the main concerns in the quest to apply electronic ID technology to the livestock industry is the bottleneck at point of sale. Can we find systems to scan cattle rapidly and accurately as they move through a sale yard, for example?

Enter research into high-frequency tags currently exchanging signals at 916 kH.

North Dakota State University's Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) has been leading the research into high-frequency ID technology. DREC has begun a multi-partner demonstration project to find the best hardware structure and tag composition. Speed and accuracy are critical, says Mick Riesinger, DREC livestock biosecurity specialist.

The CalfAid team placed high-frequency eartags in cattle and collected data as the cattle were run individually and in a group through corrals. Two sets of high-frequency readers were installed.

Test results revealed an accuracy of 94% with only one bank of readers activated. With two banks activated, the read rate was 99.9% accurate. The read distance was from 6-22 ft. in initial high-frequency tests. Since then the researchers have expanded the read distance to 30 ft., recording a 99.9% accuracy rate.

“The eartags need to be relatively small, which is a challenge,” Riesinger says. “And, we have to be concerned about moisture, which is an enemy of this technology.” He says the research will look at different operating “speeds.”

“Our goal is to operate at 2.4 gigahertz, which is wireless technology, the same speed as cordless telephones,” Riesinger explains. “We could move up to 5.2 or 5.7 gigahertz.”

The next step is to work with ear tag companies that can handle a high-frequency tag.

“We're working on attaching a high-frequency antenna to a tag that's only been used for low frequency,” Riesinger adds. The DREC group will also test high-frequency systems capable of reading both high- and low-frequency tags.

For more details, contact Riesinger at or 701/483-0028.