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Ceres Tag launches reusable smart ear tag for US market expansion

Queensland animal welfare and traceability platform Ceres Tag has turned a smart cattle tag into a burgeoning enterprise that numbers giraffes, bears, lions and even wild pigs as clients. Now in 25 countries, David and Melita Smith are delivering a reusable tag inspired by farmers, and seeking supply chain partners to continue their expansion into large overseas markets. 

CeresTag on cows in paddock
CeresTag on livestock. Words by Neil Varcoe

There’s no easy way to attach a cattle tag to a giraffe. Not only are they the world’s tallest mammals, but they also reach speeds of up to 60 kilometres an hour. Ceres Tag Co-founder and CEO David Smith said that an online purchase to Africa changed the course of his business — and the trajectory of this declining species.

“We sell online, so anyone in the world can purchase our product,” said David from beneath his signature moustache. 

“We had this purchase from Africa, then a month later, we received an email with a picture of our tag in the ear of a giraffe.”

Wife and co-founder Melita realised at that moment the platform we had developed for commercial livestock was commercially viable and ready to be used by such a diverse group of people who want a greater connection with animals.

“We had transcended from use with commercial cattle operations into conservation.”

It was more than just contributing to the protection of endangered species that struck the pair. They also knew that the Queensland company had opened itself up to a host of new, global clients — from philanthropic and government organisations to researchers and conservation groups.

And this is just the beginning for Ceres Tag — in a matter of weeks, a new product will launch in mid-November, that will again advance the company into new markets and opportunities. 

  • Learn more about Ceres Tag’s partnership opportunity via growAG. here

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Ceres Tag

Ceres Tag is the world’s first animal monitoring information platform with direct to satellite capability through a proprietary smart ear tag.
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How it began: From young beef farmers to tech entrepreneurs

Ceres Tag Co-Founder and CEO, David Smith

David and Melita Smith returned to farming focused business after more than 20 years of working in energy, construction, and education. The Ceres Tag concept was born from a desire to provide livestock producers with better access to data to drive decision-making. Launched commercially in May 2021, and less than 18 months later, Ceres Tag is now operating in 25 countries — with an estimated 6,500 tags in use. The Ceres Tag team have achieved this through determination to see the industry move into the 21st century with automated, real time, unlimited range information – collecting a swag of design and business awards along the way. However, it was a career in agriculture that almost didn’t happen.

“I was told at a very young age to never work in the cattle industry — and here I am,” David said, with a smile breaking across his face.

David grew up on a small cattle farm in the Hunter Valley region of NSW. His family were doing paddock-to-plate before it was a culinary and agricultural trend. You can see the origins of Ceres Tag’s first product — Ceres Trace — in David’s childhood. 

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Melita hales from a sixth-generation farming family, and this valuable insight coupled with expert partnerships cultivated during the development, made the end user experience and its value intrinsic to the innovation process. 

“To do this monitoring properly, you have to do it direct-to-satellite — it’s pointless if you have to use land-based infrastructure,” said David. “It’s so limiting — if you have hills, gullies, trees, it doesn’t work."

“You also lose that traceability aspect if you move the cattle — only satellites can maintain that connection.”

Ceres Tag is the world's first animal monitoring platform with direct-to-satellite capability via a proprietary smart ear tag. 

The two products — Ceres Trace and Ceres Wild for both livestock and wildlife — provide near real-time location and health data at an individual animal level. It is the only solution that requires no towers, no maintenance and no ongoing subscriptions. The batteries also last for 10 years, and the tag is the size of a matchbox. They're also easy to fit, and as simple as a standard tag.

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The benefits to agriculturalists — from extensive commercial operations to absentee farmers — also go beyond the apparent animal welfare aspects to protect against stock theft via push alerts when animals leave the farm. The tags also empower producers against the continued threat of biosecurity impacts by providing live and historical information on animal movements. 

The next step for Ceres Tag is reversing that philosophy of traceability there from the start. 

  • Learn more about Ceres Tag’s partnership opportunity via growAG. here

Ceres Ranch — Reusable smart ear tags launching in November

Ceres Tag

“One of the biggest improvements we had from the livestock industry was the reuse of the ear tag,” said David. 

Frustration with a supply chain product that won’t break is unusual feedback — but it led to new innovation.

Ceres tags have a 300-kilogram breaking force — almost five times the staying power of a standard ear tag. That’s great news if you plan to keep livestock on your farm or plan to track it from paddock to supplier. It’s not good news if you want to use it again.

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“When you are talking about banks and retailers and others who need that entire supply chain information, Ceres Trace is perfect, because even when an animal changes hands, you still have intact information,” he said. “Individual farmers, however, want to be able to use tags repeatedly.”

David slides a prototype on the table that looks familiar — like a leaner, greener version of the original.

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“Many farmers will only have animals for a year, and if they spend the money, they want to be able to reuse the tags — so we built it for them.”

Reusable tags are not the only big news coming out of Ceres Tag — they are opening a US office in the near future, making it even easier to scale the company to major American and European markets.

The first buyer was a Montana ranch, followed by the Smithsonian Institution, a client focused on rewilding Bison. Success in the US feels like a safe bet.

Surprise online purchase to rewilding giraffes to Mozambique

Ceres Tag being used for conservation efforts on giraffe

Namibian conservation organisation, The Giraffe Conservation Foundation (GCF), was behind the online purchase that started a broadening of the mission for Ceres Tag.

They are using Ceres Trace and now Ceres Wild tags to conduct the largest translocation of giraffes, which started in May 2022. 

Director of Conservation and Co-Founder of GCF, Julian Hennessy and a team of conservationists are moving more than 350 animals from South Africa to neighbouring Mozambique over the next several years. The creatures almost became extinct in Mozambique due to a civil war between 1977 and 1992. GCF and Ceres Tag are building a brighter future for this majestic savannah giant.

Ceres Ranch will be available online from mid-November. Ceres Trace and Ceres Wild are available now. 

Learn more about Ceres Tag’s partnership opportunity via growAG. here.   

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