Sagebrush Tags – FAQ’s 3

In our previous blog we’ve discussed some basic information about getting started using EID/RFID and then we refined that a bit to discover some basic information about the tags themselves.

This time we will broaden the discussion a bit to more information about EID/RFID SYSTEMS.

What is an RFID System?

Any electronic identification system comprised of a scanner/reader and a transponder that can read or write data content using a specified radio frequency. In our case we are mainly dealing with the 134.2 kHz low frequency passive tags.

What is a Scanner or Reader?

The scanner or reader transmits and received radio frequency signals, contains a control unit to execute commands and incorporates an interface to transfer data. It can also receive commands and respond to software commands from the computer.

The scanners/readers are available as handheld or stationary. Some factors taht can affect the range of the scanner/reader are:

  • Power available to the reader
  • Power available within the tag to respond
  • Antenna characteristics and size
  • Competition from other devices emitting electronic signals

Will my Tag Work with Other Readers or Will my Reader Recognize Other Tags?

The basic answer is YES – The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has established a specific standard for EID/RFID which clearly lays out the technical requirements for compliance. Many tags AND readers are FULLY COMPLIANT with the ISO Standard so that any truly ISO compliant tag or reader should be interchangeable and functional with other ISO compliant systems (using the same ISO standards). The exception to this might be a user who has an older half-duplex (HDX) reader.

How do I Get Information Back, and will I Be Blamed if Something Goes Wrong?

The cattle industry has simply changed forever with the introduction of Mad Cow Disease, and the change is not only with regard to accountability.

If you are going to offer cattle for consumption in this marketplace, you and they NEED to be identified. A bonus to this scenario is that you can retrieve performance information back from industry partners so that you can improve your herd and offer a better product to those partners. The market will show loyalty to producers of quality animals so the cost is small and the return potential is great.

An important consideration in attaching responsibility in the event of a disease outbreak is the ability to verify that you are not responsible for a particular occurrence or that the animals in question perhaps did not come from your premises.

What type of Software will I need Simply to Read Tags?

For simple reading of tags to the PC, a simple “Wedge” program can be used to funnel the tag numbers to an Excel spreadsheet.

What if I want to Collect More Extensive Data About Each Animal?

There are a number of software programs available with a variety of options to meet a user’s needs. We have a listing of several of these on the “Links” page of our website.


Sagebrush Tags – FAQ’s 2

This time we will look at some basic information about EID/RFID tags.

First, it’s probably beneficial to know that eTags, EID tags and RFID tags are basically the same thing with a few variations.

The various manufacturers of these tags market them under different names which helps make it a little easier to identify whose tag you are using or ordering.

The term “eTag” is generally used by Destron Fearing.

“EID tags” are marketed by Allflex and Temple Tags/Z tags.

“RFID tags” are marketed by Y-TEX.

There are other manufacturers out there using some of these terms as well but these are the ones we offer here at Sagebrush Tags.

What is an eTag/EID tag/RFID tag?

It is an animal identification device containing an electronic “chip”. These are often also called a “transponder”. These devices are able to be “read” (by a scanner or reader) through non-metallic materials and do not necessarily require line-of-sight.

Most of the common transponders used in animal identification are passive, low-frequency transponders designed to work in harsh environments. ISO standards require these to have a frequency of 134.2 kHz.

What is a Transponder?

TRANSmitter/resPONDER – the transponder becomes activated when placed inside a magnetic field generated by an antenna (reader). The induced current in the coil in turn charges the capacitor located inside the chip. Depending on the transfer protocol, the chip transmits its identification code.

What is a Coil?

A coil is the component of the electronic chip, which consists of very thin wire wound 500 to 1000 times into a loop that has a diameter of 20 to 30mm.

What is a Chip?

The electronic chip is made up of an integrated circuit and a capacitor that is attached to two ends of a coil.

What is a Passive Tag?

The scanner/reader must excite the transponder at a specific radio frequency in order to transmit tag data content. These type of RFID tags rely upon the energy generated by the scanner/reader in order to transmit tag data content.

What is OTP?

One-Time Programmable. This is a specific chip design by which the device manufacturer programs the contents of the electronic chip – often to correlate the EID number with the number printed on the exterior of the tag.

Is My Private Information Stored in the Tag?

NO – The tag only contains a wire coil which returns a single unique identification number when energized by a reader. No other information is stored in the tag.

Why use a Tag rather than an Implant or a Bolus?

The big issue is recovery at the packing plant. Implants can break and migrate, boluses have similar problems. Packing plants generally avoid the expense and liability of recovering wandering identification. Ear tags however are easily recovered and kept out of the food process.

Wow! Lots of good information there – and more to come in our next blog.

In the meantime, check out our products at


Sagebrush Tags – FAQ’s

We are going to include a few FAQ’s in the next few blogs. We will start with some basic information about getting started with EID/RFID.

What is EID?

Electronic Identification.

What is RFID?

Radio Frequency Identification.

Why Use EID or RFID?

EID/RFID provides the linkage necessary for converting data into accessible and useable information with a greater degree of accuracy and timeliness.

What is a Premise ID Number (PIN) and Where Can I Register My Premises?

A Federal Premise ID Number or PIN is a 7 digit letter/number combination, usually starting with 00 (2 zeros) which helps link your Official ID tags in the USDA database to your Premises. The main reason to do this is to help with traceback of certain animals in case of a disease outbreak.

Alternatively, in some states, you might instead receive a LID or Location ID Number which usually consists of a 2 character state identifier followed by a 6 character letter/number combination.

You can apply for a PIN or LID by contacting your State Department of Agriculture. The application process is generally pretty simple and you can often receive your new PIN or LID within a day or sometimes even a few hours.

Why Should I Use RFID/EID On My Herd, and Where Can I Find More Information?

There are several good reasons to use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) / EID (Electronic Identification) on your herd. The bottom line is that if you are serious about improving your herd, raising your profit potential, and complying with federal and state guidelines and in some instances, regulations, there is no better investment than an RFID/EID system. Your local Extension Agent likely has a good base of information to help you with this decision and there is also a wealth of information available on the internet to help with getting started. Other good sources for information would be your state Department of Agriculture or the USDA/APHIS website and be sure to check back with our Blog for more information about EID/RFID.

You may find RFID/EID tags and Readers at




Sagebrush Tags – Authorized Reseller / Tag Manager for USDA 840 “Official” ID Tags

Sagebrush Tags  is an authorized tag manager/reseller for the ‘840’ series tags from Allflex, Y-TEX, Temple Tag and Destron Fearing which are approved for use with the USDA/ADT Animal Disease Traceability program. These tags bear the Official Eartag Shield and manufacturer’s name along with the 15-digit identification number beginning with 840. They can also be used with other certification programs. These devices are not to be removed from the animal once they have been applied.

In order to purchase the 840 tags you MUST have a Premise ID number (PIN) or Location ID Number (LID) registered through your state Dept. of Agriculture or tribe. Orders for the 840 tags will be shipped to the address of the premise registration unless special arrangements are made. There will be a ‘Special Instructions” box on the order form for you to enter your premise ID number.

ADT/Official ID Rule

Effective March 11, 2013 USDA changed the individual identification requirements for cattle and bison moving interstate. Official identification includes: orange brucellosis vaccination tags, USDA silver tags and 840 RFID and 840 Visual Tags. Registered breed association tattoos or tags, and brands registered with the state brand board may be used if accepted by both the state of origin and the state of destination.

For cattle, the following animals must be identified with Official ID ear tags:

  • All sexually intact cattle and bison at 18 months of age

  • All female dairy cattle of any age

  • All dairy males (intact or castrated) born after March 11, 2013

  • Cattle and bison of any age used for exhibitioin, rodeo, shows and recreational events

***Feeder cattle of beef breeds less than 18 months of age are not included in this requirement.

There are now a variety of devices which have been approved for the ADT including RFID button tags; matched sets which include an RFID button tag and a visual tag set with matching 15-digit nubmers; All in one tags which combine the RFID device with a panel tag; or USDA 840 visual tags which are panel tags with a 15-digit number printed on them.
These tags will also meet COOL requirements.

If you wish to use these devices to help with marketing your animals then you may want to enroll with a third party verifier or PVP program such as Certified Angus Beef, AgInfoLink or South Dakota Certified Beef.

Approved devices for horses (equine), alpaca/llama are a microchip transponder such as the Destron LIFECHIP which is inserted under the skin of the animal – usually in the neck on horses or at the base of the poll on llama/alpaca.


For more ordering options from Sagebrush Tags please see our USDA 840 Official Tags / Microchips page.

Swine Premises Tag Information!

The agriculture industry is ever-changing in the way that it is regulated at different levels. These levels include nationally, regionally, and locally. It is important to stay up-to-date on the rules and regulations that affect our farming operations. One topic that is very important regarding tags is in regards to swine premises ID tags for breeding sows and boars moving into the harvest channel. There has been some questions as to exactly which PIN tag should be used to identify where the animal originated. We would like to provide you with some information to help clear up any questions you may have about this.

The following was quoted to Sagebrush Tags from Kendra Frasier. She is the Animal Disease Traceability Coordinator of the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Animal Health. She wrote in regards to this matter:

“After some discussion in industry after the PIN tag requirements came out, the general rule is that the “origin” can be the place where the animal has spent the past 3 months. Therefore, it doesn’t need to be the premises on which the animal was born, as long as the PIN tag refers to the last place the animal spent at least 3 month’s time before entering slaughter channels.”

We hope this information is helpful for anyone who may have had some confusion as to the regulations of PIN tags on animals heading to processing plants. You can find several types of PIN tags available through Sagebrush Tags. If you would like to purchase, please use the link below.


Your Source for your Tagging Needs!

The way we farm has advanced greatly over the past few decades. Therefore, the way we use livestock identification should advance, also. At Sagebrush Tags, we are here to provide you solutions for all of your tagging needs. It’s now easier than ever for you to spend more time on the larger aspects of your farming operation, and less time worrying about your tags. Every hour of your day is important, so let us help YOU by freeing up some of your time. With Sagebrush Tags, we make it easy to place your order, whether it’s online or by phone. We handle each transaction securely, whether it’s online or by phone. Just let us know what you are looking for, and we will have it shipped right to your door. We also Specialize in Custom Print Tags! No matter what you are looking for, let us take care of it so that you can keep your operation running smoothly.

Contact us today!

Print Types for Tags


There are several print types for the printed ear tags for livestock and they vary in longevity (fading out) and how well they show up on the tags.


Laser print is recommended for long-term use. It shows up as more of a dark gray color rather than a true black but is guaranteed against fading out for the life of the animal.

Laser print is offered by most of the tag manufacturers. The setups for custom orders are quicker and easier with laser allowing for more flexibility in the size and layouts of the designs on the tags.

Tag manufacturers that offer the Laser print include Temple Tag, Z tags, Y-TEX, Duflex and Allflex with Duflex and Allflex both offering “Ink over Laser” which is a blacker print for the main Numbers on the tags with all other print information on the tags being printed in straight Laser print.


Hot-stamp print uses a foil which is “hot-stamped” onto the tag and indents the tag slightly when the print is applied. Hot-stamp print is not a very long-lasting print, usually fading or flaking off in about 1 to 4 years.

The hot-stamp process involves more steps for the setup and hot-stamp orders can take a bit longer than the laser print orders. Because of this, if you are wanting more information on the ear tags than just basic numbering, it can cost a bit more for hot-stamp.

Tag manufacturers that offer the hot-stamp print include Temple Tag, Z tags and Y-TEX.


Digital Print is offered by Y-TEX. It is similar to hot-stamp in that it is a shorter term print lasting about 1 to 4 years before fading out and is a blacker colored print.

The setup and print process is the quickest one available.

If ordering basic numbered tags you will find that the price is usually the same as the other types of prints but can cost a bit more per tag when adding more information to be printed on the tags.


Engraved ear tags are offered by Ritchey tags.

This option is a bit more expensive but looks very nice and doesn’t fade out.

The Ritchey tags are a three layered tag with the main color on each side and the “print” color in the center of the layers. The tag is then engraved down to that center layer to expose the “print” color.

Ritchey tags can be purchased engraved by Ritchey or you can purchase them “blank” and engrave them yourself using a Dremel tool.

Here is an example of an engraved Ritchey tag.


From Branding to Electronic Tags: How Livestock Identification Has Evolved


As a means of more easily keeping track of animals, as well as marking ownerships, the need for livestock identification arose. Over the years, identification methods have evolved. Learn about some of the earliest methods as well as the most recent evolutions.



Branding has been achieved by many means, but the earliest use was to heat up an iron with the livestock owner’s “mark” and apply it to the animal. Branding livestock can be traced back as far as ancient Egyptian times. Some ranches still use this method to this day.


Another method of branding with an iron is freeze branding, in which an iron has been chilled with dry ice, nitrogen, or another coolant before being applied to the animal. Rather than leaving a scar, freeze branding damages the hair cells responsible for pigment, which turns the animal’s hair color white.



Some livestock are earmarked with pliers. Earmarking is strategically cutting an animal’s ear in specific places to signify information, such as who the owner is or how old the animal is. This method has been around since the 16th century and is still a method used for pigs, cattle, and sheep.


Ear Tags

The earliest ear tag was developed for King George III in 1799. Since then a few different types have been used, such as:

  • Button shaped
  • Flag shaped
  • Metal
  • Plastic clip
  • Electronic

Some of the above are joined through the ear, while others are clipped over it.



Ear tags often have an RFID (radio frequency identification) chip. Containing electronically stored information, the chips are usually passive and only transmit the data when within the range of a reader. This data is then sent to database, where the information can be easily accessed.


From tattoos to microchips to collars and anklets, there are many other forms of identification options used. It will be interesting to see what the future has in store for livestock identification.

The Advantages of RFID Cattle Tags

Cow with yellow ear tag

An RFID system for your cattle is a great way to track your herd, helping you make improvements, expand your profit margins, and comply with government regulations. But without more information, you still might not be sold on RFID tags over the traditional tags that you’ve been using.


Traditional visual tags can get lost or damaged in ways that makes them unusable. The tag can get caught on a fence, get snagged and scratched up by brush, or have other things happen to it. When the tag is lost or unreadable, the identifying information on the tag is lost as well. An RFID tag stores its information electronically, and is small and unlikely to get lost, and so the ID information won’t be lost either.


Manually inspecting each animal and noting its ID information takes a long time, especially if it’s done by hand. Since RFID systems need only 3 to 12 inches between the reader and the tag, it’s much faster to get information on all the cattle that need to be IDed. You can even set up passive checkpoints where the ID of each animal that passes through, such as onto a truck or into a barn, will be scanned.


An RFID reader sends out an electromagnetic field that energizes the RFID coil, which then transmits its data back to the reader. Since the data is handled entirely electronically, human error is all but eliminated.

For more information about RFID tags for your herd, visit /

How to Get Started with RFID


There are several good reasons to use RFID technology on your herd. The bottom line is that if you are serious about improving your herd, raising your profit potential, and complying with federal and state regulations, there is no better investment than an RFID system.

The cattle industry has changed, and not only with regard to accountability. If you are going to offer cattle for consumption in this marketplace, you and they MUST be identified. A bonus to this scenario is that you can retrieve performance information back from industry partners so that you can improve your herd and offer a better product to those partners. The market will show loyalty to producers of quality animals so the cost is small and the return potential is great.

An important consideration in attaching responsibility in the event of a disease outbreak is the ability to verify that you are not responsible for a particular occurrence or that the animals in question did NOT come from your premises.

To get started identifying your herd, contact Sagebrush Tags.