RFID Research

The Canadian Cattle Identification Agency (CCIA) in partnership with Livestock Markets Association of Canada (LMAC) sponsored a multi-phase RFID Systems Applied Research Project.  In light of proposed legislation on traceability, the project studied the impact of RFID Systems at auction markets and buying stations. The factors evaluated were:

  • Speed of commerce
  • Animal and employee health and safety
  • Read accuracy
  • Business impact
  • Capital and operational costs

This four minute video provides an overview of the project and its objectives: http://www.youtube.com/user/canadaidagency/videosClick on National Research Project Phase One Video

The project installed, operated and tested multiple commercially available Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) reader technologies and various software packages in multiple test sites across Canada. The broad cross-section of markets enabled the project to implement numerous systems from multiple vendors taking into consideration different size markets and physical layouts that will support and validate the data collected. An RFID system is a combination of hardware, attached to a scanning alley, with software installed on a data entry device.

Traceability requires the capture and transfer of RFID tag data from cattle to the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency’s (CCIA) database through the use of electronic readers at each movement site. The technology and processes must meet the needs of auction markets by not impeding commerce or causing additional stress for the livestock.

All reports are available in French by accessing the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency website and clicking on the icon for the RFID Research Study on the front page. http://www.canadaid.ca/fr/index.html

This project was funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Growing Forward program.

Phase One: Proof of Concept

Phase One was a proof of concept, evaluating the ability of RFID hardware to collect and disseminate RFID tag numbers to the CCIA database, the Canadian Livestock Tracking System (CLTS) at a high level of accuracy and reliability. Further, the research evaluated the impact on speed of commerce, business process efficiency and effectiveness and read accuracy. Ten auction markets in four provinces participated in the study.

In this phase, staff employed by the project recorded the data by group size on a laptop using custom test software. There was no intervention in the scanning process; the data collected is what can be assumed accurate in an operating environment. 141,197 cattle were scanned in 31,376 groups over thirteen weeks.

Phase Two : Integrating with Management Systems

Phase Two advanced the study of RFID systems by integrating the RFID hardware with the management or enterprise software. This required the development and installation of software modules that aligned with the management software to collect and record the RFID tag numbers. This integration enabled the tag numbers to be available on settlement documentation for both the consigner and the buyer. Phase Two detailed capital and operational costs for RFID systems by evaluating three types of operations:

  • Stand alone (by-pass) software, with data entered by individual group, system operated by a third party
  • Integrated software, with data entered by individual group, the system operated by site personnel
  • Stand alone (by-pass)software, with data entered as a total for the scanning day, the system operated by site personnel

In addition to the 10 auction markets that participated in Phase One, three buying stations/assembly yards were added to the test. The RFID hardware was updated in some of the markets to evaluate new technology for wide alley systems and pen scanning. The older existing systems were replaced with new technology intended to increase read accuracy. 393,474 head of cattle were scanned in 107,423 groups over forty-one weeks.

Phase Two-B : By-pass software

The last phase of the research further revaluated the efficiency and effectiveness of low cost software that by passed the management systems and stood alone for tag collection and reporting without intervention by site personnel. The variance in test protocol from Phase One and Two was that groups were not scanned individually. The cattle moved through the system over 24 hours and the totals were recorded and reported to the CLTS.  The RFID hardware from the previous phases was used and the software was installed on either a laptop or office computer.  Site personnel were accountable for reporting on the data collected. 118,200 head of cattle were scanned over 15 weeks.

RFID systems

This presentation discusses the various configurations of RFID systems and the pro’s and con’s and costs as observed during the research project


This presentation and report was derived from observations by the Project Manager over the two and half years of the research project.  The report details advice on assessing location, contracts, timing and choosing systems. 

These three video’s are commentary from personnel that participated in the research project and discuss:

  • The importance placing the system at the right location: Click on Location Commentary
  • The impact on speed of commerce: Click on Speed of Commerce commentary
  • Conclusions and observations: Click on Conclusions by test site participants

Multi- Media presentations

    • Recommendations for installation of RFID systems, approximately 15 minutes click to view video
    • Introduction to RFID Systems, with discussion on configurations, pro’s and con’s and costs, approximately 20 minutes,

click to view video


  • http://www.youtube.com/user/canadaidagency/videos
    • National Research Project: Single, dual and wide alley systems
    • National Research Project: Phase One overview
    • Location commentary by test site participants
    • Speed of commerce commentary by test site participants
    • Conclusions commentary by test site participants