How Does an NLIS Cattle Tag Reader Work ?

In an effort to guarantee the quality of beef and sheep meat, Australia has instituted the National Livestock Identification System (NLIS). It requires handlers and farmers to keep detailed records of livestock shipments, grazing habits and health reports throughout each animal’s life. Complying with these regulations can be difficult and trying, but new technology is available to automate the process and make it as easy as possible. At the core of this technology is the NLIS cattle tag reader. It completely digitises the process and provides a number of benefits beyond legal compliance.

Easy Tracking

Every individual animal is now outfitted with an RFID chip. This allows each one to be identified by an NLIS scanner and added digitally into the system in a manner of seconds. It makes compliant livestock tracking faster, easier and cheaper than older, slower methods. When the RFID chip is scanned, it can be used to to update your digital records, track animal health, track activities and the NLIS database. Improved digital record keeping enables handlers and farmers to focus on more important parts of their work rather than dealing with messy hand written notebooks and dealing with government paperwork and filing.

How Tag Numbers Work

Every animal has two functioning, distinct tag numbers. The first is the RFID identifier stored inside the NLIS tag casing and is tamper proof. This unique number is transmitted via RFID and can be easily read by an NLIS scanner when the reader is waved within 5-10 cm from the physical tag. The RFID number is displayed on the reader and can be downloaded to your computer to add important information about each animal. The second number is physically printed on the outside of the NLIS tag. A visible ID exists on every NLIS tag, and this visual ID number is a combination of the farm’s PIPC number, the manufacturer's code and a sequential number. When your order tags, both of these numbers are automatically uploaded to the NLIS database under your PIC (Property ID code). Both numbers can be used to manage movement of stock and the visual number enables people without an NLIS reader to use the NLIS system. It serves as something of a handwritten backup. If RFID scanning is unavailable for any reason, the visible number can be also used as a substitute and updated later on your computer. Both numbers are paired in the NLIS database and can be used interchangeably. 

Use of both numbers and how to download both matching NLIS numbers (RFID and Visual) is described in detail here in the NLIS available for free download here. From pages 7-13, you can see how to utilise the numbers while scanning cattle and while working with the database. You can also learn how to make manual adjustments and ensure that the tracking and reporting is working as intended.

What Is Tracked?

The purpose of the NLIS system is to better record movement of farm animals and to trace their life cycle. In the case of cattle, each has its own unique NLIS identification number. When scanned with an NLIS reader, the number is used to record the movements of each particular bovine. 

Overall, the system will track every cow that enters or leaves the property. It has designations for livestock added to assets, livestock moved from the farm, third-party livestock movements on the property, death of livestock, birth of new calves, property audits and the roaming habits of the livestock within the property.

Adopting an NLIS cattle tag reader into farm operations is simple and straightforward. Simply ensure all livestock are fitted with an approved NLIS ear tag and create an account with the NLIS system. When used properly, NLIS tags can help you maintain optimal conditions for every animal, and it will ensure that you are producing the highest quality meat possible. At minimum, it will guarantee that you are following proper procedure and remain qualified to continue raising livestock.

Please note failure to use NLIS cattle tags as advised by the NLIS can lead to significant fines and/or penalties. Purchase an NLIS reader today from AgriEid and reduce the time required to ensure full compliance and avoid any potential financial penalties.