New EID tags could end paper passports

Ultra high frequency (UHF) cattle ear tags could provide real time traceability and see the end of paper cattle passports.

Research conducted by SAOS and ScotEiD has so far identified a shortlist of UHF tags and UHF readers to be tested further. In order to test the technology effectively, Cox Agri and tag specialists Zee Tags have developed the EaZee Read UHF/LF combination tag and a Zee Tags UHF tag; these are the first ear tags of their kind to be DEFRA-approved for use in the UK.

Trials will compare the merits of both UHF tags and low frequency (LF) tags. LF transponders are those currently used in sheep tags mandatorily in the UK and voluntarily in cattle tags.

What are the potential advantages of UHF technology?

  • Cost savings, the technology is more widely used in other sectors and UHF transponders are significantly less expensive than LF transponders
  • A longer read range, UHF technology can be read in some circumstances over six metres away which would reduce the requirement for close contact handling in cattle
  • A larger data memory than LF, the tags could contain tamperproof ID and passport information and then editable data space for use by farmers to note a condition such as calving date
  • Anti-collision technology, allow large groups of animals to be read at once providing traceability recording at the speed of commerce in marts and abattoirs

Further trials will continue throughout 2013 with an expected Pilot Scheme taking place in the summer. You can keep up to date with news of the trial at

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