Retention projects : Early results from the cow-calf sector
In a search for solutions to the problem of tags falling off in bovine operations, ATQ has launched three retention projects since 2008 to evaluate modified tags and tags from different manufacturers.
TABLE 1 - Proportion of damaged male parts (after 24 months)
|Suppliers||Broken male parts -
|Broken male parts -
|Allflex||21 %||10 %|
|Reyflex||26 %||5 %|
|Destron||0 %||0 %|
So far we have found similar loss rates for all three companies.
TABLE 2 - Loss rates - cow-calf operation (after 24 months)
|Suppliers||Loss rate -
|Loss rate -
|Allflex||11 %||18 %|
|Reyflex||11 %||25 %|
|Destron||29 %||8 %|
A reinforced tag
The High Breaking Strength and Combo Tags project was conducted only in cow-calf operations, where 270 animals were retagged. The high breaking strength tags had a reinforced tag stem, while the combo tags had a large visual panel combined with an RFID chip. After 18 months, the high breaking strength tags had a loss rate of just 4% for both the electronic part and the visual panel; there was only one breakage of a male part. For the combo tags, losses were around 2% for the electronic part and less than 1% for the visual part, and again just one male part was broken. It's worth noting that producers appreciate the visual aspect of combo tags, because when the animals are out to pasture it makes visual identification much easier.
A tag of more flexible plastic
To overcome the problems of male parts breaking and tags falling off, the Ultraflexible Plastic Retention project was launched early in 2009, with 380 animals being retagged. This project compares three models of Allflex tags: the regular tag that is currently being distributed, a tag made of ultraflexible plastic with standard male parts, and an ultraflexible tag with rounded male parts. The latter include a button that completely surrounds the stem, to make the tag more resistant to the physical stresses of the bovine environment. This male part also has a rear visual panel that is rounded to make it less likely to catch on things, while still enabling visual identification of the animal. Tags of ultraflexible plastic are designed to slip free of anything that could damage them, whereas regular tags and high breaking strength tags have to be built sturdy.
So far in the project, regular tags and ultraflexible tags with standard male parts have similar results for loss and breakage. In contrast, ultraflexible tags with rounded male parts have had no losses or breakage at all. Though it may be early to draw conclusions, since the project has been running for just over a year, it looks as though the rounded male parts do a better job of surviving the bovine environment. The coming months will let us evaluate the three types of tag more objectively.
ATQ's tests are promising, but the future will tell us more about the real performance of these products. ATQ will keep you informed about further developments in a future article. Rest assured that ATQ is committed to meeting the needs of bovine producers and will continue working to find the best product.