The Wisconsin Livestock Identification Consortium (WLIC) now offers a cost-benefit calculator for electronic identification systems.
The calculator accounts for herd size, labor rates for both herdsmen and veterinarians, milk price and RFID hardware and software costs. It then calculates total start-up costs and annual costs. The producer can also input estimated efficiency improvements and estimated losses due to misidentified animals. The calculator will then estimate potential savings through reduced ID errors and time spent inputting data.
For example, a 250-cow milk herd with 25 dry cows and 250 replacements would have estimated start-up costs of about $4,500 when the price of tags, a RFID reader, handheld computer, software and installation are included. The annual costs, for system maintenance and annual software licenses, would be roughly $600.
If the estimated money lost due to misidentification is $2,000 and there is a 50% improvement in ID accuracy and time savings, an RFID system would still save $7,000 per year at $12/cwt milk. If milk rebounds to $16/cwt, the RFID savings jump to more than $8,000/year.
If the estimated efficiency jumps to 90% and milk is at $12, the net savings would be $11,600 per year. At a 35% efficiency improvement, the savings would still be $5,500 per year.