Title: Integration of RFID Technology in the DHI Milk ...

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Title: Integration of RFID Technology in the DHI Milk ...

  1. 1. Title: Integration of RFID Technology in the DHI Milk Recording and Data Collection Process Overview: The DHI data collection pilot project, by AgSource/CRI and Valley Ag Software, proposes to test the improved efficiency associated with the implementation of RFID technology as part of the Dairy Herd Improvement (DHI). This includes milk recording and data collection process as well as integration of premises identification into existing animal identification databases and record systems. Update One Date: 9/27/04 Quantitative Results: Number of Premises – 4 Number of Animals – 400+ Overview: Four large dairies that use RFID tags were selected for the project. Two dairies without RFID tags would be added to the project. The pilot project participants experienced difficulty in finding two herds without RFID tags that were interested in the project. The inconvenience of tagging animals coupled with the lack of any clear benefit for the farmer made the process difficult. The project distributed over 400 tags to the farms. The RFID readers with BlueTooth from Ag Info Link were found to be the most reliable. Other readers show promise, but are still being developed. Dell Axim Pocket PC PDA’s have been purchased and installed into the field notebook computers. Input record formats have been developed for Premises ID, Animal ID, and animal movements. Next steps: Work has begun on the data load and edits processes and will be for the next three weeks. We expect to field test the readers/pocket PC shortly thereafter. The functionality of the wireless RFID readers is somewhat questionable due to the short transmitting distance required between the tag and the reader. The first herds are to be tested in early November. Update Two Date: 12/6/04 Quantitative Results: Number of Premises – 6 Number of Animals – 400+ Overview: We have received the beta version of the VAS pocket PC application and have used it in the field on three herds to date. There are some issues with the ID tags recorded for some of the animals. It seems that either the RFID tags were missing or simply miss keyed in the producers DC305
  2. 2. program. The pocket PC application works off the producers DC305. But overall, the RFID reader picked up the tag and transmitted it to the pocket PC, then identified the cow quite easily. We will continue to use the RFID reader/pocket PC on the coming test days. We have tested and created output movement records for WLIC for review. Record formatting adjustments are being implemented and additional records will be generated as the project herds are tested. Using the RFID reader in the milking parlor is sometimes difficult because of the location of the tags in the animals’ ear and the physical layout of the parlor facility. Some of the cows do not seem to be spooked by the RFID reader, but some cows seem to get quite excited about the new device being waved at their head. Update Three Date: 12/30/04 Quantitative Results: Number of Premises – 6 Number of Animals – 635 Overview: Progress on the project work has stepped up since the RFID and test day software has been working well. The RFID reader/software interface is working well. Some additional modifications may be made as testing continues. Using the PDA device for key entry is also working well. Although we have not noticed a time or labor savings using the PDA/RFID readers over normal test day procedures, we believe that in some situations that using the PDA device will allow for faster data entry. I have broken out the projects main development points and goals below. We are looking forward to further testing. Issues in project development and testing are: ○ The reading of individual cow ID electronically ○ Electronic entry of animal ID into DHI data collection systems ○ Association of each cow with a registered premises number ○ Downloads to DRPC database ○ Report incidence of lost and replaced RFID tags Project Goals and Objectives ○ Reduce cost of labor associated with DHI data collection ○ Development of DHI automated RFID systems ○ Improved accuracy of DHI animal identification ○ Facilitate animal and premises ID and trace back within an existing producer service ○ Establish additional benefit of RFID in cattle for the dairy industry
  3. 3. Update Four Date: 1/31/05 Quantitative Results: Number of Premises – 6 Number of Animals – 635 Overview: Testing of the project herds as continued. We tested five of the six project herds in the month of January. Overall the PDA application and RFID reader is working well. We have spent some time keying in RFID tags into the producers software on the farm and verifying these numbers. We have developed a list of recommendations to improve the milk testing application that resides on the PDA. We have seen some promise in labor or time savings by using the PDA in the milking parlor. On the downside we have experienced an increase in the number of unreadable RFID tags in the past month. We will be monitoring the number of unreadable tags to see if the cause is anything related to the environment or equipment failure. Update Five Date: 2/2005 Overview: We tested five project herds this month. We created over 3,000 cow movement records and transmitted them to WLIC. We had a RFID reader fail during one of the farm tests. The RFID reader is #0069. The reader would not turn on and read a tag. The battery was ok. We plan on troubleshooting the RFID reader and send in for repair if necessary. We experienced another problem with the BlueTooth application. It appears that BlueTooth is malfunctioning when used in the milking parlor at one of the project farms. BlueTooth will work outside of the parlor, but not inside. In both of these two cases we continued with the farm test using the AXIM but without using the RFID readers. Update Six Date: 3/2005 Overview: Five project herds were tested in the month of March. We created over 3,100 cow movement records and transmitted them to WLIC this month. We continued to experience difficulty picking up RFID numbers via BlueTooth on one of the farms. We believe there must be some interference, electrical or otherwise causing the problem.
  4. 4. Overall the RFID readers were working well this month. We received more remarks from the field staff that the cows are acting “jumpy’ around the RFID readers and the RFID tags are becoming more difficult to read because of this. Final Project Status Report The field collection Project was completed with the last herd test on April 18th. We have gained a lot of experience working with RFID tags, readers and hardware during the time frame of the project. Overall the RFID reader and test day software has been working well. We have completed over 18 herd tests and generated over 12,000 animal movement records for WLIC. I have broken out the projects main development points and goals and the issues we encountered below. Issues: Project development and herd testing summary • The reading of individual cow ID electronically. Reading the RFID tags located on the cows’ ear has been somewhat challenging. Current technology requires that the reader must be within 5-6 inches of the RFID tag. This is a difficult task to do in some of the milking parlor facilities. The head of the cow is sometimes difficult to access and the cows’ can be easily startled. This resulted in more time needed to gather tag numbers and upset cows and producers. We also experienced difficulty in reading RFID tags in stanchion barns. It seems that the metal stanchion is too close to the RFID tag in the cows’ ear causing interference with the signal from the RFID reader. Reading the RFID tags was quite difficult in some of the project herds. These difficulties would be largely overcome if RFID tags would be located in or near the back legs of the animal. Generally, the reader did pick up the RFID tag when we were able to get good access to the tag. • Electronic entry of animal ID into DHI data collection systems. The RFID tag numbers were stored in DC305 software on a PC and a PDA unit. The RFID reader using a Bluetooth connection accesses these numbers. Overall, this procedure worked well. The Bluetooth connection was good across 50-foot ranges. We did experience some difficulty using Bluetooth in some milking parlors. We believe that the either the large amount of stainless steel or electronic motors located in the milking parlor was causing interference with the Bluetooth signal. Additional program development should be added to allow the field tech to enter or capture newly read RFID tags into DC305 as a method to update or enter in new tags. • Association of each cow with a registered premise number.
  5. 5. Currently the premise number is being stored in the DRPC database. Cows in the herd are associated with the herd and the corresponding premise number within that database. The actual RFID number is stored in the DC305 program, but is not currently being transmitted to the DRPC database. Although this will not interfere with the creation of an USAIN animal transaction record, the RFID number will need to be transmitted to the DRPC in the future. • Report incidence of lost, replaced or unreadable RFID tags. When we started the project we found that none of the project herds had keyed in RFID tag numbers into any on farm software. Since registration numbers andor state series ear tags are widely accepted, these numbers were found in the farms’ software and within the DPRC database for each herd. Additional data fields were added to the DC305 software to store the RFID numbers. All of the farms in the project did not have a cross-reference list of the cows and the RFID tag assigned to the cow. In general the RFID numbers assigned to the cows were not known nor kept on the farm. There is a mindset that the animals’ registration number or state series tag is more valuable than the RFID number. Currently the producers do not see a value in the RFID number. No farm possesses an RFID reader. The farms visually identify their animals by using floppy tag numbers, neck chains or leg bands and use the registration numbers as permanent identification. In some cases we were able to retrieve a cross-reference list from the supplier of the RFID tags, the Holstein Association. Most of the time these RFID numbers were manually via the RFID reader then cross-linked and keyed into DC305. We found at each herd there were numerous cows without RFID tags. We have distributed over 700 tags to these farms. We experienced very little tag loss during the timetable for the project. We did experience a small number of RFID tags that the reader could not read or pick up at all during the test. Project Goals and Objectives • Reduce cost of labor associated with DHI data collection. We may need to conduct broader testing to make any conclusions on this issue. The general viewpoint among the project staff is that when we can easily read the RFID tags via the reader some time and labor is saved. Unfortunately, the difficulty in accessing the RFID tags is one of the major problems. Although we have not noticed a time or labor savings using the PDARFID readers over normal test day procedures, we believe that in some situations that using the PDA device by itself would allow for faster data entry. The major stumbling block has been accessing and reading the RFID tags effectively. • Development of DHI automated RFID systems.
  6. 6. The DC305 software program can pickup the RFID reader signal and bring up the cows’ data up on the PDA quite well. At this time the RFID tag number is only being stored in the DC305 database. DC305 will soon be able to transmit the RFID numbers in the DHI -DRPC database. Using the RFID number, as the primary identification would be the next step in the process. The producers will need some education to see value in using RFID numbers. Currently no farm possesses an RFID reader and all animals are identified via other means. The incoming herd test data is edited in the field by the Field Technician and then transmitted to the DHI-DRPC. These records are posted and edited again at the DHI-DRPC. AgSource developed software modules that create USAIN Animal transaction records from these herd test records. Transaction records are created for 13 different types of animal events or movements. These USAIN Animal transaction records are transmitted to WLIC and then archived on the DHI-DPRC system. • Improved accuracy of DHI animal identification We may need to conduct broader testing to make any conclusions on this issue. Most of the farms in the project already have excellent animal ID test day procedures. Rarely have situations occurred in which an animal is miss- identified. We believe that using RFID tags will improve ID accuracy greatly on farms that have identification issues. All of the herds in the project had excellent visible ID in place. We observed no changes in the number of animals without valid ID on the herds enrolled throughout the timetable of the project. • Facilitate animal and premise ID and trace back within an existing producer service. Although some of the field data collection methods were not as enhanced by RFID as we had hoped, we remain optimistic about the long term opportunities to facilitate ID programs and tracking as part of our on-going services to livestock producers. We are already accommodating defined NAIS Program Standards as part of our information services to producers. We have been creating and transmitting animal USAIN animal transaction records for the project herds to WLIC. Our regular presence on farms should enable us on an ongoing basis to confirm animal presence. This will contribute to animal movement records necessary to make the NAIS a reality within the targeted timelines recently announced by USDA. Also, to make participation in required programs more cost-effective for producers. • Establish additional benefit of RFID in cattle for the dairy industry. In the original proposal we presented the hypothesis that producers would demand additional applications beyond that required of NAIS for the costs associated with RFID technologies. Other service providers, such as our organization, will be expected to adapt to RFID in data collection and
  7. 7. information services. Our experience with this project has confirmed the theory, especially considering the producers we worked with who had installed RFID tags in the past, but had failed to utilize them since. Unless RFID can become an integral part of the livestock operation's management system it will greatly limit its integrity for NAIS applications. For example, if a tag has been applied at an early age, but never read until slaughter, there has been no confirmation of its ongoing transmission of a readable signal. Regular use of the tag will confirm its usability at the time the animal leaves the premises. Additionally, we believe that adding value to RFID by expanding it to other uses is the best approach to nullifying the concerns about the cost of the system for individual producers. Monthly Project Updates January Update Testing of the project herds as continued. We tested five of the six project herds in the month of January. Overall the PDA application and RFID reader is working well. We have spent some extra time keying in RFID tags into the producers software on the farm and verifying these numbers. We have developed a list of recommendations to improve the milk testing application that resides on the PDA. We have seen some promise in labor and time by using the PDA in the milking parlor. On the downside, we have experienced an increase in the number of unreadable RFID tags in the past month. We will be monitoring the number of unreadable tags to see if the cause is anything related to the environment or equipment failure. February Update We tested five project herds this month. We created over 3,000 cow movement records and transmitted them to WLIC. We had a RFID reader fail during one of the farm tests. The RFID reader is #0069. The reader would not turn on and read a tag. The battery was OK. We plan on troubleshooting the RFID reader and sending it in for repair if necessary. We experienced another problem with the BlueTooth application. It appears that the BlueTooth is malfunctioning when used in the milking parlor at one of the project farms. BlueTooth will work outside of the parlor, but not inside. In both of these two cases we continued with the farm test using the AXIM but without using the RFID readers. March Update
  8. 8. Five project Herds were tested in the month of March. We created over 3,100 cow movement records and transmitted them to WLIC this month. We continued to experience difficulty picking up RFID numbers via Bluetooth on one of the farms. We believe that there must be some interference, electrical or otherwise causing the problem. Overall the RFID readers were working well this month. We received more remarks from the field staff that the cows are acting “jumpy” around the RFID readers and the RFID tags are becoming more difficult to read because of this. RFID reader #0069 is not working properly and will need some technical repair

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