I wouldn’t say the phone has been ringing off the wall, but I have had a few more producers call or email with concerns about the reliability of RFID ear tags. And I can’t devote this space to every last person who may have experienced a problem with lost tags, but I thought I would share a few more stories.
Darcy James, who runs about 200 head of cattle in western Manitoba, called to say he’s finding about 20 per cent of the tags he applies in cattle ears are being lost during the season.
James says they are not being ripped out of the ear, but he’s finding most are just coming apart. Often the back plate of the button just seems to disintegrate and crumble. He was told by a company rep he was the only one they’d heard from who had a problem.
James has tried putting the RFID tags in both ways — some with the ID part of the button facing forward and some facing backward. He thought by putting what is considered the back part of the button on the inside of the ear it might help protect it a bit from sun and deterioration. Doesn’t really seem to help.
James says with incredible technology today which makes it possible to do such things as bore miles of tunnel underground from both ends and have the two boring machines meet within a couple of centimetres, why can’t engineers build an ear tag that doesn’t fall apart?
Alain Gaudet of Redvers, Sask. writes: “I run a 140-head cow-calf commercial herd. In the 2009 calf crop I thought I would save myself time (because I am alone) by putting the CCIA tags in the calf when it was born. It was very cumbersome. I had to wear my carpenter’s apron because I had one ear tag for his number so one plier for that, one plier for the CCIA tag, one plier for applying the castration ring and a syringe for vitamins. What use to take about 30 seconds now takes longer and the cow isn’t happy. So in the fall when it is time to wean calves, the truck is on the way, I am sorting and I notice a calf missing his tag then another and so on, when I was done I had to resort and retag 30 calves. And by now the truck is backed up to my chute. So much for time saved and the extra cost of three bucks a tag and extra stress on the animals. I went to the business where I purchased the tags and asked if any one else had complained and they said no one else had. I had forgotten about the issue until I read all your letters in theGrainews, (Jan. 10, 2011 issue). In the 2010 calf crop I tagged the calves as I sorted them which is stressful on the calf, not to mention I am now dealing with a 600-pound average calf compared to a 90 pound average new born. So in 2011 I have not decided yet what I will do.
As one of your other readers said there has to be an easier way. Branding is there for the life of the animal. I also should mention, I had a black Limo bull, five cows, and one calf taken (rustled) out of a pasture in 2009. If they were branded there would be a chance of finding them. Ear tags and CCIA tags are simply replaced so there is a slim chance of ever finding them. It is not hard to see why people are leaving the industry…and we are all getting older.”
William Lank a retired producer andGrainewsreader from Meadowbank, PEI, called to say maybe some of the old ear tag technology wasn’t that bad. Lank says the metal TB vaccination ear tags that wrapped around the edge of the ear and then clipped back into it self was pretty reliable.
Lank says the 3/8-inch wide steel tag rarely was lost. The odd one might have been ripped out, but they never came undone. “I’ve seen cattle carry those tags for 15 years,” he says. “They are not easy to read for visual identification, but perhaps a second plastic tag could be used so you can read the number.” From a relatively permanent ID perspective, he says it was hard to beat those TB tags.
COMING EVENTS AG-CHOICES FEB. 16 — IOWA FARMER AND WELL-KNOW SPEAKER ON FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS, JOLENE BROWN, WILL BE SPEAKING AT THE AGCHOICES 2011 CONFERENCE IN RED DEER ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 16. BROWN’S OFTEN HUMOROUS BUT RELEVANT TALK WILL COVER “THE TOP TEN STUPID THINGS FAMILIES DO TO BREAK UP THEIR FARM OPERATION.” IN HER PRESENTATION, BROWN WILL DEMONSTRATE HOW SUCCESSFUL FARM SUCCESSION PLANS NEED TO BE BASED ON MORE THAN GENETICS, TRADITION, ASSUMPTIONS AND EMOTION. FORAGE SYMPOSIUM FEB. 17, 2011 — THE MANITOBA FORAGE SYMPOSIUM WILL BE HELD AT THE VICTORIA INN, BRANDON, MAN., FEB. 17. THE PROGRAM GETS UNDERWAY AT 9 A.M. WITH SEVERAL SPEAKERS DURING THE DAY. COST OF THE SYMPOSIUM IS $50 FOR A MANITOBA FORAGE COUNCIL MEMBER; $75 FOR A NON-MFC MEMBER; AND A MANITOBA FORAGE COUNCIL MEMBERSHIP IS $40. REGISTER ONLINE OR CALL JOANNE AT MAFRI (204) 768-2782