From transponders to RFID at our dairy

**** 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.


We’ve got a pile of them!

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;)


18 thoughts on “From transponders to RFID at our dairy

  1. Pingback: Finally, a smartphone | soshemarriedafarmer

  2. 20pieces for delaval transponders(ALPRO)

    address:401 Marsh Ln
    STE 6, #KQ15669
    Newport, DE 19804

    I will pay delivery charge.
    so comment or email me the totals.
    I’ll send you money on paypal.


  3. Dear Rita,

    I don’t want to keep your job, but I was really happy, when I found your blog. My family has a similar farm than yours. We live in Hungary, and we have similar problems, than you. We have 200 cows and 200 calf, and for the milking we use DeLaval technology. This is the reason why I decide to write to you.

    We bought DeLaval transponders for every cows, because of we want to recording the oestrus and the milk production. Unfortunately, the system doesn’t work very well. When the cow is eating, the transponder turn (because it touches the feeder place) and the receiver antenna in the milking parlor can’t identify the cow. We can’t change our feeding technology, because of that we start to hunt for an other possibility to identify of cows. Later we found an other technology, when the transponder is in the cow’s ear, and doesn’t in the neck. We know that the ear-transponder can solve our problems, because of that we bought some pieces. Unfortunately, the new ear-transponder work an other frequency that our receiver antenna. We try to ask DeLaval to help, but they don’t want to help us.

    I read your blog entry of July 12, 2013 which title is „From transponders to RFID at our dairy”. I have some question in connection with the RFID, and I hope you can help me.
    – Where comes from your RFID, from Delaval, or from an other company?
    – Did you change the receiver antenna too, or the ear-transponders can work with the „old” antennas?
    – Have you to change any other thing in your milking system, or you just change the transponders to RFID and everything work after it? (I know, you have to rewrite the RFID numbers in ALPRO, but have you other work with it?)
    – Is there any problems with the RFID?
    – How much is the RFID? I know that cheaper than transponder, but I’d like to know how much is it.
    If you sent me some picture from the RFID and the receiver antennas, it would be a big-big help for us.
    I hope I didn’t keep your job and you can reply to me. Sorry, but my english is not soo good, but maybe you can understand me. Please help me, if you can

    Julia from Hungary

    (PS: I sent it on the Facebook too in private message, but I think you didn’t get it)


    • Julia,
      I sincerely hope you can get your problems solved. Technology can be so frustrating!
      An RFID tag is just over $1, but a transponder is $60-$70. The reader for the RFID is about $2000, so that is very expensive.
      When we first switched over, we had issues with the cows getting scanned in the parlor….turned out it has to do with the lighting. Our LED lights in the parlor was somehow interfering with our readers. We had SEVERAL people out to give us opinions. We ended up switching to a different type of LED, and now have $8000 worth of light bulbs sitting in boxes because of the interference with our RFID. I hope this helps some! Let me know!


      • Dear Rita,
        thank you very much for your fast reply. You wrote, that the reader for the RFID is about 2000$. I would like to know that this price is concern only 1 piece antenna, or the all reader system? We have 3 reader (two in the milking parlor, and one in the sorting gate), so we have to change all the 3. I hope it is not going to cost 6000$. You said that, several people help you in the change. Please tell me that which RFID brand offered you, and wich firm procured it? If you don’t want to write it here, please send it me in private e-mail message to: nekerdezd[at]
        Good luck, and thank you very much your help 🙂



  4. Pingback: From Ocheda Dairy to Northern Ireland | soshemarriedafarmer

    • I am so sorry. They are already completely sold. I would think other dairy farms might have some. Perhaps you could try putting an advertisement in the magazine, Dairy Star ( asking if anyone has some for sale.


  5. I see that this post is over a year old but do you have any transponders left? I would like about 20. I am in Maryland. Send me an email if you still have some. Thanks


  6. How is a collar different to a tag? Different frequency? Both are rfid are they not? If a cow backs out with the tags, does the read remove that cow from the stall it was assigned to when it first entered the reader?

    I know the new Delaval readers can read collars and button tags but was just wondering how they differ in operation.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s