Why You Should ID Your Sheep

Identification is a very important tool when managing livestock. Every successful business operation must have accurate records, and the livestock industry is no different. Where sheep are concerned there are several differentiations in identification. There are permanent, semi-permanent, and temporary. Curious what each is used for? Read on.

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Ear Tags

Ear tags are some of the most commonly used form of livestock identification. They come in many forms and colors and are usually made from plastic or soft metal, such as brass. The metal ear tags are usually the same size and take along the same shape, the plastic ones come in different colors and a few different shapes. Brass tags are ideal for using on small and newborn lambs because they’re light and won’t pull down on the ear. Each style of ear tag, metal and brass, can be numbered or be left blank in case you use your own numbering and ID system. These tags are applied to the animal’s ear using an ear tagger which acts similarly to a piercing gun used for human ear piercings.

Scrapie Identification

While not used primarily on the farm, these tags are used when shipping sheep and lambs out of state. The U.S. Dept. Of Agriculture requires almost all sheep and lambs to have premise identification ear tags before leaving their farm of origin. This is done to help eradicate scrapie disease, and identifies where every sheep came from when shipped. These tags are applied like a normal ear tag using a tagger.

Tattoos

Tattoos are one of the best forms of permanent livestock identification. They don’t harm the animal’s appearance nor reduce its value. This is usually done by tattoo gun or by press, with the numbers and letters made of needles that place very small holes in their shape and then ink is applied to the holes so that the number is readable. The downside is that the tattoos are very hard to read at a distance and will require catching the animal to read the tattoo.

Ear Notching

Ear notching is done by placing a V-shaped notch placed somewhere in the ear. While swine producers use this system as a way to identify their livestock. Sheep producers mainly use it for simple differentiation. For example, a farmer may use ear notching to denote birth type or when the lamb/sheep was born. Additionally, it can be used to mark ewes for culling.

Neck Chains

Finally, there’s neck chains. This form of identification is most commonly used for dairy animals such as cows or goats. The chain needs to be placed around the animal’s neck tight enough that it doesn’t fall off but loose enough so it doesn’t choke them or cause growth problems, which means constant inspection. Additionally, chains can be caught on objects causing the animal to choke. I would not consider this a permanent form of identification as the chains can be easily removed.

What do you use as a form of livestock identification? Let us know in the comments below. Also, if you’re in need of some livestock ID tags or tattooing supplies check out our full line of supplies.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on !

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Why Tattoo your Pets

Most pet owners know that a good secondary line of ID after a collar and tags, is to keep your pets safe when they are lost is to have a vet implant a permanent RFID chip so that if they are lost and then found, the vet or shelter can scan them and track down the pet’s owner. However, another method to keep your animal safe is by having them tattooed. It’s safe and has been routinely done since the sixties.

Tattoo vs. Microchip

Tattooing your pet is a great and permanent way to protect your companion if they ever get lost. This relatively painless procedure uses inks or pastes that won’t react with the animal’s blood or tissue. Also, unlike a RFID chip which needs to be scanned, the tattoo is visible to the naked eye. Additionally, implanted microchips can migrate within the animal, so when they are scanned, there is the possibility that no information will be found. Finally, tattooing your animal will protect them if they are accidentally donated to a research lab, as labs are prohibited by law to use tattooed animals in experiments.


Interested? Here’s a video detailing the procedure.

Where can I get my pet Tattooed?

While Ketchum doesn’t offer pet tattoo supplies, we do carry tattoo equipment and ink for identifying your cattle and live stock. For pets, tattoos can be done by veterinarians and then are registered. Different animal organizations (humane societies, breed clubs, etc.,) have registry procedures, ask your local vet on what the procedures are to get your pet’s tattoo ID registered. The largest organization that does pet tattooing is tattoo-a-pet.com, who has been providing a pet tattoo registry since the early 1970′s.

One Final Word

No single method can keep your pet safe. While tattooing is a great alternative to microchipping your animal, it does not guarantee their safety. You should always have multiple methods of identifying your animals. Collars and tags should always be your first line of defense when ID’ing your pets, these other methods should always be a back-up method. We have a full line of different pet collar ID tags and vaccination tags available on our website.

Lisa Podwirny is the owner of Ketchum Mfg. Connect with her on Google+!

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Feral Swine

Domestic Piglets from Breezy Pond Farm

Feral swine herds have had explosive growth since the 1990′s, with an estimated population of 6 million pigs, according to the New York Times.  What used to be a problem for southern states is spreading and there are now feral swine in 45 states.  The estimated annual damage, in the United States, caused by feral swine is 1.5 billion dollars.

The Spread of Feral Swine Herds

Swine are very adaptable and with a near by source of water, can thrive almost any place.  Capture and release practices are one of the major causes of the rapid geographical spread of feral hogs.  Some people capture nuisance pigs and rather than killing them, transport them to a new location, while other groups may introduce wild hogs to an area for sport hunting.

Government Responses

Many states governments are taking aggressive action to decrease the harmful impact  of feral swine on the environment.  New York State, as well as many other states, has an open hunting season on wild hogs.  North Carolina has a serious problem, with every county in the state reporting wild pig populations, along with an open hunting season, new regulations have been adopted.  In North Carolina all domestic hogs being transported on public roadways must be identified with either an ear tag or a tattoo.  The fine for transporting live, unidentified swine is $5,000.00 for each pig.

Tattoo Supplies

Ketchum has a variety of tattoo products available.  We offer a hog slap tattooer that can hold 4, 5 or 6 large 3/4″ digits.  The slap tattoo is an inexpensive way to mark the hogs before they are transported. Our Baby Pig Tattooer is another option and may be the easiest way to tattoo, while the piglets are small and more easily managed.  Ketchum Hog Slap tattoo ink and paste are available in green and black. Please visit our website for more details.

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