Being able to identify animals individually throughout their lifetime has become imperative for livestock operators. As well as ensuring traceability through the supply chain, it also empowers you to make better-informed management decisions.
Stick readers, or wands, and panel readers help you identify livestock quickly and accurately. Depending on the hardware, they can be used to record traits such as condition scores, pair offspring with parents in the calving or lambing pens, or provide more valuable weighing sessions, as they “speak” to the weigh head over wifi or Bluetooth. Here, we look at some of the top readers on the market, which integrate with AgriWebb for sheep management or cattle record keeping.
Features to Consider in a Stick Reader
Ease of use: For a seemingly straightforward piece of hardware, stick readers have a wide range of controls, ranging from one-button navigation to alpha-numeric keypads. Alerts for scanned livestock include flashing lights, beeps or vibrations. Choose a stick reader that you will be comfortable using in what is often a busy and noisy environment.
Durability: When you’re working outdoors with livestock, you want a durable stick reader that won’t fail under pressure. Make sure the product has an IP rating for waterproofing, battery life that will see out a session, and comes with a warranty.
Date storage: At the high-end, stick readers can store upwards of one million records, under more than a dozen custom-made fields. Impressive though this is, it’s redundant if your stick reader is compatible with farm management software that allows you to store information securely on the cloud, in a format that is more useful to you.
Connectivity and compatibility: Information stuck on a stick reader won’t yield many production gains. Bluetooth and wifi capabilities make it easy to transfer information from your stick reader to another device in real time. Look for a stick reader that is compatible with the farm management software of your choice – being locked into farm management software that doesn’t meet your needs because of your stick reader will be frustrating, to say the least.
The Agrident AWR300 stores up to one million records and has an exchangeable lithium-ion battery that lasts up to 12 hours in continuous read mode. It has a large colour display screen and a flashing light to show when tags are read. It can be used to link offspring to parents and records weights and treatments. There is also a function to review an animal’s history.
The Gallagher HR5 differs markedly from other units, with its unique pistol-grip design. You can read multiple tags in quick succession with one trigger click – there’s no need to repeatedly click the trigger between reads. Its large colour screen and alpha-numeric keypad make it easy to immediately record, edit, and customize data against EID records. Animal notes can be set to appear when an animal is next scanned.
A streamlined unit operated by a single-button, the Shearwell SDL440S is available in three lengths – 45cm, 58cm and 80cm. The screen displays the tag number, management group and count of animals read. It can store data for up to 16,000 animals and 26 management groups.
The Tru-Test XRS2 has a large sunlight-viewable colour LCD screen for easy reading and an alpha-numeric keypad for flexible data entry. Fast tag reads are confirmed with feedback through the vibrating handle. Capture animal data such as condition scores in up to 15 custom fields and set alerts to quickly identify animals that are earmarked for culls or treatments
Panel readers enable reliable tag reading in locations animals visit regularly. Fixed in place, they are well suited to identifying animals as they go over a weigh platform or run through a race. They can be sold as part of a sophisticated system, like the Gallagher TWR-5, or as stand-alone units that are compatible with other hardware.
The Gallagher TWR-5 is a weigh scale, data collector and EID tag reader combined. It allows simultaneous recording of up to nine animal traits, with custom trait definitions and life data recordings. The touchscreen weigh scale makes weighing and data management simpler, as you can analyse animal data crush side and record treatments or animal notes on the spot.
The Tru-Test XRP2, which can read up to 1000 tags a minute, lets you record ID tags into a session file or send IDs to your weigh scale indicator to record individual animal weights and other information. With built-in Bluetooth wireless technology, it can also connect with your Android smartphone.
Te Pari Panel Reader
The Te Pari panel reader is a rugged easy-to-use EID solution that can mount onto your cattle crush or weigh crate. The panel reader has LED indicators which flash when a tag read is confirmed or the antenna is tuning. An integrated Bluetooth connection allows wireless communication with weigh scales, laptops or mobile devices. The reader operates with Te Pari, Gallagher and Tru-test weighing systems.
Integration with AgriWebb
The value of the above stick and panel readers only skyrockets when they are integrated with AgriWebb’s Individual Animal Management. You can enter detailed information into AgriWebb, via a connected mobile device, as an animal is scanned. With the user-friendly interface on your smartphone, keeping accurate, timely records becomes a simple process.
Instead of a stocktake, each tag scan becomes a chance to build a data profile of your animals, and better manage them. Information, such as weights, treatments or pregnancy status, is securely linked to that animal. Instead of just identifying animals, you can review their history in an instant, and better plan for the future.