Improving Cattle Management Using Connective Technology

  • Dani Madson
  • James Kiger
  • Christopher Bennett
  • Matthew Warner
  • Jacob Kennedy


Managing livestock thru geo-positioning would dramatically improve several aspects of livestock production. While there are systems capable of tracking cattle, they are prohibitively expensive, particular when you consider the “profit” of a cow-calf operation is a $150 - $200 per year per head. The company we have received a grant from has determined that $20 per head annually is the maximum beef producers will pay for such technology. Therefore, we are focused on relatively simple systems that use RFID technology as a base, limited to scanning about 30 inches. Other technologies are being tested that reach about 300 ft, and can be used separately from the RFID scanners and antenna.
This study is focused on using different technologies, to determine different things: 1) cattle location; 2) accessing a mineral feeder; and 3) accessing a “creep feeder.” Phase 1: cattle will be fitted with RFID tags placed in the left ear, with a “reader” inside the mineral feeder. Cows with also be fitted with a longer-range ear tag (300 ft) to determine their movement related to estrus synchronization. 2: when cows enter the mineral feeder and consume mineral supplements, a wireless system will relay information, and is connected to a spray pump at the mineral feeder to spray for control “horn fly” populations every 18 – 21 days. 3: a “creep feeder” will monitor calves as they enter, also fitted with RFID tags, with the creep feeder having a load cell so feed intake can be determined.