Where’s Fido? Animal Tracking with RFID

Millions of animals have been tagged with Radio Frequency Identification.

Since the first RFID patents (#3,914,762) were issued in 1975, RFID tags have been attached to millions of animals.  A number of countries have implemented mandatory tagging of domestic animals, such as New Zealand requiring all licensed dogs, with the exception of farm dogs, be tagged.  Similarly, Northern Ireland and Israel have requirements for all dogs being tagged. 

Source – Wikipedia

Australia and the United States have established national livestock identification systems.  The International Standards Organization (ISO) has developed two standards, ISO-11784 Radio Frequency Identification for Animals – Code Structure, and ISO-11785 Radio Frequency Identification for Animals – Technical Concept as standards for RFID use in animal tracking.

The most common RFID tag for animals is roughly the size of a grain of rice, and is inserted under the skin.

The majority of RFID tags in use today operate in the 124.2 KHz to 135 KHz frequency range.  As a result of this low frequency use, the range is limited, with typical read ranges less than thirty feet.  Most of the tags will have from 112 bits to 128 bits, depending on the technology adopted.  Besides the unique identification number of the tag, a number of bits are reserved to provide the country code as identified by ISO.

The tags can be inserted under the skin or may be clamped on the ear along with other more visible tags for animal identification.

Source – Wikipedia

While most applications have addressed farm animals, there are applications of the technology for tracking fish, specifically salmon.

There have also been major efforts by veterinarians to have household pets tagged.  There are a number of national organizations that act as a clearing house for pet recovery based on an animal being tagged.

While the majority of the tags used in animal tracking applications operate at the low frequencies noted, Amtech Corporation did develop a longer range system. 

Source – Wikipedia

Their system operated in the 900 MHz frequency range, providing read distances to 300 feet.  While their technology was never implemented to any great extent for animal tracking, the tag did become a major player in the toll and other industry applications.  There are currently companies developing other long range systems that will be in the 2.4 GHz frequency range and higher.