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Pilot Project on the New "Ultraflex" Bovine Identifier

bov nouv id 2011Since the introduction of Quebec's traceability system, Agri-Traçabilité Québec (ATQ) has conducted various pilot projects that have led to the documentation and improvement of identifier rentention.  In March 2009, ATQ tested tags composed of an ultra-flexible (Ultraflex) plastic, where the backside panels have a rounded shape.  This project, scheduled to terminate in 2012, is being conducted on seven dairy farms and five cow-calf operations.   

Ultraflex - an innovation for Quebec producers

 

 

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Photo 1 : The back portion of the identifier fits tighly against the ear.

photo 2web

Photo 2 : Vertical square tubing or flat bars are likely to increase tag damage, particularly when the animal withdraws its head.  Here you can see evidence of wear, a result of repetitive movements.

 

Here are the results from two farms participating in the project: Benoît Côté  of Maple Hill Farm, a purebred Hereford beef producer and also a commercial feeder-calf producer located in Shefford, as well as Marc and Roch Bilodeau, with Cynthia Morin, of the dairy farm R & M Bilodeau in Sherbooke.

 

Ultraflex is the new cattle identifier, possessing three characteristics that increase its retention rate: 

  • The flexibility of the plastic
  • The rounded shape of the backside portion
  • A ring around the stem of the tag's back portion, which strengthens the tag's attachment. 

 

The combination of thse three factors ensures that the back portion of the tag perfectly matches the natural contours of the ear (see photo 1). Since there is no space between the identifier and the ear, the back panel is therefore less susceptible to catch on feed bunks, for example. 

 

 

In order for the back portion of the taf to fix tighly against the animal's ear, it is now recommended to install both tags (the visual panel and the electronic RFID tag) into the first third of the ear, near the head.  

 

Nevertheless, Benoît Côté notes that the animal's environment remains the most important factor regarding ear tag retention, even with the Ultraflex identifier.  It was often mentioned that cattle feeders constructed with vertical steel bars are more likely to cause tag loss. Therefore, when replacing equipment, it would be wise to choose a model that will reduce tag drop. Round tubing is recommended, while square tubing and flat bars are to be available because of their sharp edges (see photo 2). 

 

As for Mr. Bilodeau, he suggests installing round Carlon tubing over any flat bars. However, this solution has not yet been tried on his farm, because of the requirements of the tag retention project.

Impressive Results 

In general, the rate of breakage of the identifier's backside part is higher in the beef sector, which eventually leads to the loss of the entire tag.  The following tables show the results obtained to date (with re-tagged cows):

Maple Hill, cow-calf operation Rate of breakage backside part of the electronic RFID tag Rate of loss electronic RFID tag Rate of breakage backside part of the visual panel Rate of loss visual panel
Regular Allflex 35 % 5 % 10 % 10%
Ultraflex 0 %

0 %

0 %

0 %

 








 

R & M Bilodeau, dairy production

Rate of breakage backside part of the electronic RFID tag

Rate of loss electronic RFID tag

Rate of breakage backside part of the visual panel

Rate of loss visual panel

Allflex régulier 10 % 10 % 0 % 25 %
Ultraflex 0 % 5 % 0 % 5 %


 








 
ATQ wishes to thank all the producers who have participated in the various tag retention projects. Their valuable collaboration has led to the development of Ultraflex.  Without their support and their astute comments and suggestions, this product could not have been properly tested and proven.  In conclusion, it should be noted that Ultraflex is an exclusive product worldwide and this identifier is currently available only in Quebec.

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Left photo: Benoit Côté of Maple Hill Farm.

 

 

Right photo: Marc and Roch Bilodeau, with Cynthia Morin of the dairy farm R & M Bilodeau.

 

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