STILLWATER, Okla. -- Strategic Solutions International LLC has been selected by the USDA Risk Management Agency as a Strategic Research and Development Partner and awarded $436,000 for the commercial development of the company's patent-pending cattle health monitoring system, TrueTag(TM).



The partnership will enable SSI to commercially produce the cattle health monitoring system by fall 2007, and will be administered by the Research and Evaluation Division of the RMA.

"We are thrilled the USDA has recognized the risk-mitigating benefits our system can provide the industry by helping reduce treatment costs and reduce the spread of infectious disease, thus significantly reducing the economic risks faced daily by cattle producers across the country," Steve Trost, SSI director of research and development, said. "Shipping fever alone is responsible for more than $1 billion in annual losses to the beef cattle industry. A commercially-viable, cost-effective solution has long been needed."



SSI's cattle health monitoring system involves the use of an ingestible electronic pill that resides permanently within each animal's stomach. The pill continuously monitors the animal's internal body temperature and periodically transmits the animal's health status to an external ear tag. The first-generation system provides an on-animal visual display of the animal's health status.



Future versions will not only display the health status directly on the animal, but will also transmit the information to a remote monitoring station.



"Several evaluations have compared the economics and performance of cattle that become sick and require treatment to those that remain healthy through the growing-finishing phase," Chris Richards, Oklahoma State University Beef Cattle Extension Specialist, said. "These repeatedly show that if an animal gets sick, the combination of medical cost, reduced performance, and reduced quality of the end product result in reduced returns that range from $25 to $150 for those calves compared to calves that remain healthy. SSI's TrueTag system will combine a tamper-proof animal identification that also provides producers with the benefits of a health-monitoring tool."



TrueTag(TM) cattle identification and health monitoring system measures the deep body temperature of cattle by using an internal temperature-sensing pill. Validation of the system is being accomplished at the Willard Sparks Beef Research Center in Stillwater, Okla., in conjunction with the Oklahoma State University Animal Science Department.



Each pill is electronically linked to an ear tag. Whenever one of two programmable temperature thresholds is exceeded, a high-luminance, light-emitting diode (LED) on the corresponding ear tag flashes to alert the livestock producer of potential animal illness.



This technology allows for earlier detection and treatment of numerous illnesses, such as bovine respiratory disease (BRD), thus minimizing animal losses and treatment costs, as well as reducing the spread of infectious diseases within and between herds. Because treatment can be provided earlier than through normal visual inspection, cattle producers benefit from reduced treatment costs, reduced cattle mortality and morbidity, improved daily weight-gain, and better meat quality.



The pill, uniquely linked to the animal's ear tag, also provides protection against theft as a tamper-proof method of cattle identification.



The need for verifiable cattle identification and traceability has been recognized by consumers and legislators. To meet this need, the USDA has created the National Animal Identification System as a means to rapidly trace sick animals to the source of infection and to find other animals that have been exposed to the illness. SSI's TrueTag(TM) system can assist this effort by reporting each animal's NAIS-compliant animal identification number (AIN) both visually and via long-range active radio-frequency identification (RFID).



Nomadics Inc.. SSI is actively pursuing research in the areas of construction quality control, construction materials, low-cost thermal insulation, and animal health monitoring.



SOURCE: Strategic Solutions International LLC via Business Wire.