“If a farmer wants to count animals through a four-metre-wide gateway, two or more will be going through at once and that could result in shielding of signals or even double-counting of some tags. The situation is worse than that of trying to get all the goods on a pallet read as they enter a warehouse, McKenzie says. “The boxes on a pallet don’t move about all the time.” Animals contain water and blood, are covered with hair and may have horns, some of the most troublesome of radio-shielding substances.
Deer particularly like to travel in bunches. The movement means the software relied on to prevent signal collisions with stationary or predictably moving goods does not work so well.
Some trials have been done of the alternative RFID carrier, the bolus – a hollow pill that sits in the animal’s intestine; but that is less useful for meat processing, since the internal organs are extracted and the bolus must be “recovered”. You always know where the eartags are – on the animal’s head, Mackenzie says.”
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