Guide to Cow Tags and Other Cattle Identification Methods [Infographic]

Stable of cows with ear tags

Whether you own one head of cattle or thousands, it is important to manage your herd properly. At its most basic level, “herd management” means keeping track of your cows through some means of reliable identification. In previous centuries, this meant simply guarding against loss or thievery. One of the oldest methods of doing so was to mark the animals permanently with a brand, which left on the skin a unique identifying symbol to establish ownership of the animals.

Nowadays, the purposes for identifying cattle have multiplied. In addition to proving ownership, those who keep cattle should also maintain accurate records regarding performance, breeding, origin of the animal, its health, vaccination history, and intake of antibiotics and other medicinal treatments. Of particular importance is the need for “Animal Disease Traceability” (ADT), intended to help prevent the spread of brucellosis and other types of serious contagious infections among herds. Continue reading “Guide to Cow Tags and Other Cattle Identification Methods [Infographic]”

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Tattooing Livestock: Farmyard Facts

Drawing of farm animals with farmer

Farmers today who regularly tattoo their hogs, goats, cattle, horses, and other livestock may not realize it, but they are participants in a practice dating back to the very dawn of human civilization.

Thousands of years ago, almost as soon as our hunter–gatherer ancestors stopped hunting–gathering and instead took to farming and animal husbandry in fixed settlements to supply themselves with reliable sources of food and clothing, they realized they had a new challenge to face: how to keep track of their ever-growing herds of swine, goats, cows, sheep, and other animals in their care.

Flock of sheep in show

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The ABCs of Hog Tattooing

Hog with ear tattoo and ear tag

One of the most basic goals of good livestock management is to keep track of your animals, which means employing a reliable system of identification. Among the various methods available to positively identify cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and other livestock, the most common include tagging (with plastic ear or neck tags); and, at the high-tech end, RFID (radio frequency identification) using a transponder to relay the animal’s info and location.

Whatever method you adopt, it should be appropriate for the type of animal and the size of the herd. Moreover, since none of the aforementioned methods is completely foolproof—ear tags can fall off, transponders can malfunction—it is prudent to have a redundant identification system in place.

Whether used as the primary system or a backup, one of oldest and the most reliable methods is animal tattooing, which is especially popular among hog farmers. Not only is hog tattooing reliable, it is fast, simple, portable, and cost-effective. It is also suitable for every stage of the hog’s productive life cycle, from piglet to farm to slaughterhouse to market. Last but not least, hog tattooing enjoys the advantage of being a permanent form of identification.
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