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Assessing real time tracking technologies to integrate with identification methods and national traceability requirements

Did you know there is potential for integration of novel identification and tracking technologies to improve Australia’s red meat traceability and integrity systems?

Project start date: 29 May 2020
Project end date: 09 April 2021
Publication date: 21 April 2021
Project status: Completed
Livestock species: Sheep, Goat, Grain-fed Cattle, Grass-fed Cattle, Lamb
Relevant regions: National
Download Report (1.3 MB)
Download Appendix (0.7 MB)


Identification of practical, commercially applicable, real-time animal tracking technologies suitable for adoption by the Australian red meat industry is a high priority for Integrity Systems Company (ISC). This requires a series of technologies or methods of identifying an animal, plus technologies to scan and check the identification of animals as they move from paddock to slaughter, export and consumption.

This project conducted a global scan of end-to-end tracking technologies to provide whole-of-life tracking of animals. Traceability programs are crucial for biosecurity, food safety and global market advantages of the red meat industry.

This research has demonstrated the potential for integration of novel identification and tracking technologies to improve Australia’s red meat traceability and integrity systems. To illustrate how these technologies may be incorporated into future integrity systems, four approaches are detailed and discussed in the project report, including a critical evaluation of their strengths, weaknesses and technical feasibility. 


The main objectives of this project were to:

  • complete a global scan for technologies within and outside the livestock industries that will enable real time tracking and identification of livestock
  • identify opportunities to link tracking and identification technologies
  • recommend combinations of technologies for trialling across the red meat supply chain based on successful application in other industries.

Key findings

On-animal sensor systems appear to be the most appropriate for future application, based on their established acceptance within the industry and ease of deployment. However, several key issues need to be addressed before a whole-sale (or even partial) transition to an on-animal sensor-based integrity system should be considered, such as whether:

  • the technology still requires significant technical evaluation and refinement
  • there are long-term reliability and retention rates of the on-animal sensor system.

Benefits to producers outside NLIS functionality could be significant, but there is little baseline economic data to enable an estimate of the potential industry level benefits that an on-animal sensor-based integrity system might bring.

Benefits to industry

If suitable individual animal traceability technologies can be identified for industry wide adoption, significant efficiencies would be gained across the supply chain.

Although this is dependent on the complexity of the system implemented and the production system of application, benefits should be considered as a win-win and leveraged in terms of cost reduction of National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) implementation.

MLA action


As a result of this project, MLA is working toward:

  • implementing insight-driven changes to existing Electronic National Vendor Declarations (eNVD)
  • using outcomes to inform MLA/ISC design systems
  • building an eNVD mobile app to resolve issues with offline use, consignment receival and enforcer access
  • using eNVD as a platform to bring together other integrity programs into an integrated integrity system.

Future research

  • An economic analysis of the potential benefits that these systems might bring needs to be undertaken.
  • An on-animal sensor, preferably in ear tag form factor, with absolute location and activity sensing will likely be of significant value for future integrity system functionality. The development of these systems should be pursued by the industry concurrent to the continued use of existing NLIS technologies.
  • A long term (>3 years) independent study should explore the likely retention rates of sensor ear-tags of varying weights and pin configurations, which could provide valuable insights for technology companies seeking to develop suitable hardware solutions for a future integrity system.

More information

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Primary researcher: CQ University