Smart tags capture cattle data at a distance

HerdDogg’s new long-range smart tags allow cattle producers to monitor stock from 100 yards away.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

October 20, 2021

3 Min Read
updated version of HerdDogg's popular livestock data collection and analysis platform t
DATA COLLECTION: HerdDogg recently rolled out an updated version of its popular livestock data collection and analysis platform that uses new Bluetooth 5 technology to expand the range of its readers to up to 100 yards. This is much farther than with RFID or other short-range tags, according to the company. And it allows cattle producers to get real-time alerts to an animal’s location and health biometric data. Jennifer M. Latzke

HerdDogg brings technology to the range so cattle producers can capture more data on their stock without running them through a chute.

Melissa Brandao, HerdDogg founder and chief revenue officer, spoke at the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. The idea behind HerdDogg five years ago was to bring convenience to the cattleman checking his herd in a range pasture setting. Originally, HerdDogg used Bluetooth 4 technology in its tags, which allows them to be read at a range of about 30 feet using a HerdDogg DoggBone reader, or an app on a smartphone.

“The whole system was really designed around being able to gather data from the field where the animals were on pasture, not in the barn,” she said.

Bluetooth 5

The company recently rolled out an updated version of its product, which now uses Bluetooth 5 technology, and it boosts the reading range to 100 yards.

“We’re bringing Bluetooth 5 technology to an application that is ideally fitted for it, beef cattle,” she said. “Now I can have a little bit of a distance. Especially if we’ve got more rangy cattle that are prone to flight a little bit more.”

Brandao said using a Bluetooth network for the tags to communicate with the reader or the phone app means that they don’t need a Wi-Fi infrastructure to function.

“The Bluetooth tags communicate with the DoggBone reader, which is Bluetooth,” she said. “The DoggBone reader is then taking all that data and transferring it to the cloud via cellular.”

Moo-ving data

When she designed the system, Brandao said she wanted something that could account for the remoteness of cattle in a range grazing situation, where they may be moving around all the time, coming in and out of the range of a reader. The HerdDogg system doesn’t require the cow to stand still for very long to capture the data from her ear tag.

“We needed to create a system that’s portable enough to gather the data when the animals are nearby, and then when they turn and walk away, not have the system completely break,” she said. So, when the cow with her ear tag is in range of the reader, it opportunistically captures the data the tag has stored since the last time it was read. Cattle producers can see those data on the HerdDogg platform on their smartphone, or back in the office on a computer. They can also augment those animal records with any insights and reporting from their observations of the cow in the field.

Data collection

HerdDogg offers two types of tags — TraceTag, an RFID replacement tag which can provide a logistics management system to trace animals; and the WelfareTag, which collects an animal’s biometric data.

The RFID tag is designed to follow the animal through the food supply chain, collecting traceability data that is managed through a software platform and following the animal from one buyer to another. It ultimately follows the animal to the consumer, if that’s the end marketing goal for the cattle producer.

The biometric tags can help cattlemen identify cows that have come into heat in the pasture, allowing them to pull cattle from the herd for breeding.

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About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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