What Are EID Tags And How Do They Work?

Efficient Sheep identification is critical to running a profitable sheep farming business that is implementing Precision Sheep Management. The ability to identify animals individually means you can easily track data about the animal’s pedigree and performance, and use it to make better management and breeding decisions throughout its life. This allows you to see which animals are exceeding expectations and which ones are lagging behind.

However, if you’re unable to accurately record data against individual sheep and make decisions with that information, you lose all the benefits that Precision Sheep Management has to offer (more on this in later articles). Manually entering ear tag numbers leaves plenty of room for human error, which is why many farmers are switching to EID (Electronic Identification) tags.

Keep reading to learn more about this important technology and how it works.

What are EID tags

What Are EID Tags?

Electronic Identification (EID) tags come in pretty well all conventional sheep tag arrangements available on the market. The EID tag is placed in the ear of the sheep in the same way as a conventional visual tag. 

Tags can either be Reusable or Single use. To be compliant with the NLIS (National Livestock Identification System), tags must not be Reusable. What you are trying to achieve and which state you farm in will determine what type of EID tags will be best for you.

EID tags can have custom printing solutions to suit your system, but by default, they will have a unique NLIS number printed on the underside (this is not the electronic number that appears when scanned). The tags are extremely durable and designed to last the entire lifespan of the sheep.

How Do EID Tags Work?

EID tags use RFID (radio frequency identification) technology. RFID is part of a group of AIDC (automatic identification and data capture) technologies that allow you to automatically identify objects by simply scanning them.

Each EID tag contains an integrated circuit and coil antenna which transmits the data to the RFID reader via radio waves.

Here’s how the process works:

  1. The reader scans the tag.
  2. The reader creates an electromagnetic field that powers up the tag (EID tags have no power source of their own).
  3. The tag transmits the 15-digit number back to the reader via radio waves.
  4. The reader converts the radio waves into the tag number.
  5. The tag number is stored on the reader, or when using BreedELITE can be used to initiate actions within the BreedELITE Sheep Software.
Sheep EID tags

What are the Two Types of EID Tags?

There are two types of EID tags:

  • FDX (full-duplex): An FDX transponder will transmit its information while the RFID reader is transmitting a magnetic field from its antenna.
  • HDX (half-duplex): HDX transponders differ from FDX transponders in that they wait for the magnetic field from the RFID reader to be turned off before they transmit their information. This means that the reader will detect the transponder at a greater distance.

Both FDX and HDX tags meet ISO standards and utilise the 135.2kHz band. This allows them to be read through most materials in wet and dry conditions. While both tags are similar there are some key differences.

HDX tags have a longer read range (approx. 100cm compared to 75cm for HDX tags) and are also better at transmitting through metal objects. Whilst HDX tags are a little more expensive, due to their superior performance they are quickly becoming the industry standard.

NOTE: Be careful when scanning tags if there are other tags close by. It is possible to read a different tag to the sheep that you think you are scanning..

Why Use EID Tags?

The primary reason to use EID tags is to remove the human element from the data collection process, particularly reading and recording tag numbers. It doesn’t matter how meticulous you are, there will always be the odd error. This could be due to transcribing the number incorrectly or simply misreading it. Using EID tags ensures your data is always accurate.

The other benefit is the time savings. EID tags speed up data collection, particularly when paired with a high quality Pedigree and Performance recording software such as BreedELITE, which improves efficiency and reduces your labour costs.

Have Questions About EID Tags?

Want to learn more about how EID tags can benefit your business or how they support you to implement Precision Sheep Management? Contact us with any questions you might have. Our team will be happy to answer them for you.