**** 10/28/15 — All of our transponders are now sold.
At our farm, we recently transitioned over from using tranponders to RFID. In the photos below, the transponder is the blue plastic piece the size of my palm and the RFID is the small circular tag next to her yellow tag.
The biggest reason for using either of these is to collect information that is sent to our computer so we know how much milk each cow is giving each milking. Healthy cow = lots of milk. Less milk than average means we need to find her and figure out what’s going on. Also, the information that is collected over time is very valuable to us in many other ways.
We had been using transponders since we first built a milking parlor in 2001. RFID is new to dairies since then. Wikipedia describes RFID (radio-frequency identification) as the wireless non-contact use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data for the purposes of automatically identifying and tracking tags attached to objects.
These are the advantages of RFID for us:
1. We tag them once shortly after birth and are done. Since transponders are attached to a collar around their neck, and their necks grow significantly in the first 2 years of life, we couldn’t put transponders on at birth. Instead, shortly before she gave birth to her first calf, we’d put a transponder on her. Also, it takes quite a bit of time to put a transponder on as you have to weave it in and out of a metal piece (think of something like an ’80s belt). As the years go by, the straps harden and fray making the job pretty time consuming. Way more complicated and just not as efficient.
2. Each tag costs less than a transponder. The rest of the RFID system is more, but it is easier to justify the cost with more cows that we’ve recently added.
3. More accurate readings. RFID reads to each stall in the milking parlor individually, but the transponders read them more as a group. Before, if the first cow put her neck through the reader to enter the parlor, then changed her mind and backed out, all 20 cows in that milking group would be misidentified. With RFID, that doesn’t happen. I hope I making sense here.
One of our long-time employees, Eddie, and I had been laughing about the joy we would see to watch these go up in smoke some day. Just knowing that we would no longer spend so much time, hauling these transponders around and then working our fingers sore to manipulate the strap and get them on. However, that isn’t very responsible and they do have resale value.
Do you know some farmers looking for some DeLaval transponders? $5 a piece. I’m sure they’ll love them;)