Electronic Identification for the Tracking of Beef Cows and Calves related to Mineral and Creep Feed Consumption

  • Katherine McNees
  • Steven Lawson
  • Brandon Longmire
  • Cayleigh York
  • Jonathon Baca


Managing livestock thru geo-positioning has the potential to improve several aspects of livestock production and management. While there are systems capable of tracking cattle, they are prohibitively expensive, since the average “profit” of a cow-calf operation is about $150 - $200 per year per head and current systems cost at least $100 per animal and needed by both pairs. Industry studies show about $20 per head annually is the maximum beef producers will pay for such technology. Our focus is on relatively simple systems using RFID technology as a base, limited to scanning about 30 inches for Phase 1 of this were we identify cows entering the mineral feeder apparatus. Cattle are identified and weekly electronic files are downloaded showing which animals and how often they access minerals. The mineral feeder also is connected to a sprayer that can apply either cattle insecticide to control ectoparasites or cows can be dewormed twice a year as called for. Insecticide is applied every 18 – 21 days, adjusting for wind and rain situations. Newer technology is used on a “creep feeder” accessible only by calves. It is attached to load cells which will allow constant monitoring of feed removal. Calves have newer technology electronic ID tags, allowing for monitoring when calves actually have their head in the creep feeder, dually monitoring feed disappearance matched to calve ID. The solar-powered feeding stations also have a short-range and long-range camera for visual inspection as directly remotely.