Animal Identification

Think of it as a bar code for animals. The transponder measures about 1 centimeter long and just a few millimeters in diameter. Implanted under the skin with a simple, hand-held tool, each chip contains a unique, 64-bit identification code.

Implantable transponders are used for pigs, sheep, cows, and horses. Besides being computer- readable, the chips are less painful than the ear-tags, brands, or tattoos they replace. Even better, a trained farmer can implant more than 200 animals in an hour.

The chip works together with automatic feeding and weighing systems and helps farmers to obtain a quick overview over the status of their animals.

Animate objects are by no means the limit. The Australian Wool Corporation has used such a system to identify bales of wool, while, in England, Yamaha dealers will happily chip your motorcycle. For less than 100 EURO, you can have an ID chip implanted into your bike's frame, wheels, tank, and seat. If the bike is stolen or stripped, the parts can still be tracked. And Digital Angel™ promotes transceivers, implanted in the human body, which can be activated either by the "wearer" or by a remote monitoring facility. The device also can monitor certain biological functions of the human body - such as heart rate - and send a distress signal to a monitoring facility when it detects a medical emergency. But that is another story…

How it works:

"RFID" stands for "radio frequency identification device." The microchip used for animal identification is what's called a "passive electronic device," meaning that chip itself does not give out any sort of electronic activity on its own.

Each chip is individually inscribed with a unique identification number during the manufacturing process to ensure that no two RFIDs have the same code number. Next, each microchip is programmed to store an alphanumeric (letters and numbers) identification code. The inscribed number identifies the chip by its manufacturer, while the programmed alphanumeric code identifies the animal.

The microchip is placed with an antenna and capacitor and then sealed in an inert glass tube. When an electronic scanning device is passed over the chip, it sends out low level radio waves, which penetrate the inert glass seal and strike the antenna. This creates a small amount of electric current, which is stored by the capacitor. The capacitor sends the current to the microchip, which uses the current to access its stored alphanumeric code number. The microchip then sends the code number to the antenna, where it will be picked up and read by the scanner. A LCD or other panel on the scanning device will then show the ID code.

The code contained on the RFID microchip cannot be altered or lost. Removal of the chip would require surgery by a veterinarian, and considering the small size of the implant, it would be difficult to remove. Since the chip will remain with the animal throughout its life, the ID number will be permanently stored within the animal.