Utilizing Iris Biometrics for Animal Identification

Cattle identification and trace-ability are important to control disease and maintain consumer confidence in farm products. In North America, cattle identification, such as hot branding (or mark/ tattoo) has been used extensively to show the ownership of cattle and to manage the herd for production, health and breeding decisions. However, these traditional methods for marking animals can potentially affect their behavior and cause harm, leading to a poor animal welfare.

Utilizing Iris Biometrics for Animal Identification

A calf with RFID eartag

In 2001, in order to maintain the beef export markets, the Canadian Cattle Identification Program has been established. After 5 years of testing, in 2006, all cattle leaving their herd of origin must be tagged with a CCIA-approved RFID (radio frequency identification) tag. Since then, many operations choose to tag all cattle within the herd and are utilizing RFID technology within their production systems to improve herd management. This method has helped reducing labor costs and human error in entries. However, the problems might occur when the RFID tag is tampered, cut or lost during the transportation process. Besides, any actions of invading such as ear tagging can cause tissue damage and therefore cause pain for the animals.

Iris biometric-based recognition method which is completely non-invasive might be a great solution in order to solve these problems. Instead of tagging a metal or plastic on the animals, their iris biometric data will be captured and stored on a database/ PC/ cloud service together with other information records such as: date of birth, breed and sex, details of where it’s moved from and to, calving histories, medical treatments. By utilizing the iris technology and the cattle management software, farm owners can manage livestock more efficiently and have a better cattle care.

Besides cattle management, iris technology can also be used to identify lost, stolen and even fraudulently exchanged pets faster and safer. According to the American Humane Association, over 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen in the U.S. every year. Recently, RFID microchip technology has been used to implant under a pet’s skin, usually at the back of the neck for identification purposes. This method has helped lost pets find their way home but somehow, your pets would get hurt by the microchip implants. Instead, by using iris identification, cattle and pet owners can get advantages:

  • Provide a safer, faster and completely non-invasive approach
  • Do not cause pain and alter the appearance
  • Be more reliable and have the second smallest margin of error after DNA recognition

Thanks to the above advantages, iris biometrics has gained an increasing attention from animal identification agencies. Even the utilizing of this high-tech technology in agriculture is still at the nascent stage, it is promising to be an immense market for biometrics providers to tap into this market.