Wed, Feb 15, 2023 5:00 AM
OSPRI has announced research findings on National Animal Identification and Tracing (NAIT) tags, to determine whether the tags used in New Zealand are degenerating due to climatic factors in various parts of the country. This was in response to customer and industry concern that the current tags in use may not be fit for purpose in the New Zealand farming environment.
OSPRI’s head of traceability Kevin Forward highlighted the importance of this year-long investigation, which was conducted by Callaghan Innovation. "Tag retention was the number one concern farmers express on issues affecting livestock traceability - part of that concern was a perception that tags were falling out earlier than would have been expected."
"Based on research results of our international partners, and the lack of comparative research in New Zealand, we needed to determine whether the chemical make-up of the tags was a contributing factor."
NAIT tags from the main producers were collected from slaughterhouses across the country and tested for chemical and physical defects over time. The results found there was no significant change in the chemical composition and hardness of the samples, regardless of age or region. Some tags showed some colour change and yellowing of the plastic, but this was deemed to be a visual change only and did not impact the durability of the tags.
"Now that that chemical composition of the tags and New Zealand’s environmental conditions have been excluded as contributing factors, this allows an increased focus on the other possible causes," says Mr. Forward.
Callaghan researchers also spent time on farm to investigate tag design features, tag applicators and the practical tagging process. During their time on-location, the main cause of tag failure identified was due to fence wire getting lodged behind the tag.
This same failure could be caused by animals feeding in scrub as well. Another identified point of failure was the ability to install some ear tags with a range of different brand applicators - this can cause issues as using the wrong brand of applicator could damage the tag, and result in the tag being more prone to failure. If your cattle or deer lose their tag, damage it, or arrive at your farm without one, you need to tag and register them again. Unless they have a dairy participant code printed on them, NAIT tags can't be assigned to, or shared with another NAIT location.
We encourage you to report issues with NAIT RFID tags to us. With the findings of this research in hand, OSPRI remains committed to supporting farmers by providing education on how best to meet their obligations, including best tagging practices to further increase tag retention rates.