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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Eminent Ungulates

Cows

Most people, when they think of cows, picture them in numbers grazing contentedly on rolling green hills. That is, the average person does not see them as individuals but in the plural as cattle, as part of a herd: nameless, indistinguishable one from another, a little un-fantastical, never to be acclaimed, and certainly not destined for “great things.” Once you’ve seen one cow, you’ve seen them all, right?

Yet, don’t be fooled by their seeming docility. As any cow-owner will tell you, each has in fact a distinct personality. And while most have remained anonymous throughout the long history of human-domesticated livestock, there are those that have made their name and achieved fame, if not notoriety—from Pauline Wayne, President Taft’s prized Holstein, who once grazed the grounds of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; to fearsome Ratón, the Spanish fighting bull responsible for the death and maiming of dozens of toreadors foolish enough to face him (hence the bull’s nickname, el toro asesino, “the killer bull”).

Here are five more brilliant bovines that have made their mark on history. Continue reading “Eminent Ungulates”

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Cow Tips: Raising Cattle

American_farmWith calving season once again around the corner, I wanted to revisit an old post of ours that gave out some quick tips on how to raise your cattle. So, without further ado, here is part one of our cow tips!

Most people who live in the countryside, at some point, learn how to raise cattle, especially when spring comes. Greener pastures and warmer temperatures make it ideal to raise cattle for dairy or for meat. However, raising cattle is only half the battle, once you raise them you also have to maintain them, and that’s learning what you need to do all year round to make sure that your investment, stays alive and healthy. So here are some tips for raising and maintaining cattle.

Raising CattleRaising Cattle

BuyingThe first thing that you want to do once you decide you want to raise a few head of cattle is you need to find a good source for the cows. The best thing to do is to buy a few weaned calves or feeders that are a little bit older depending on your experience and comfort. You can usually scan through local newspapers for ads selling cattle or calves or you can place an ad yourself offering to buy. Also, it would pay to visit the local co-op as this can sometimes lead to some good leads to farmers who have some stock for sale. Auction houses can be another good source for calves, but buyer beware, auctions are notorious for getting rid of sick or ailing animals. If you are unsure what to look for, bring someone who has some expertise with you so you’re not sold a false bill of goods.

ShelterOnce you have your calves you’re going to need someplace to put them. A lot of beginning farmers waste a good sum of money in building expensive barns or sheds to place their cows. Honestly, a windbreak can provide sufficient shelter for calves and older cattle. A lot of beef cows spend most of their life in the open and mainly use what they can find in nature for shelter. While calves should have some protection from wind and rain, even the older feeders are pretty hardy as long as they have access to mom’s udder. One thing you absolutely need to consider when providing shelter for cattle is to make it draft free, but not air tight. Cattle expel a large amount of moisture in breathing and voiding waste. Structures that don’t allow that moisture to escape can cause serious health problems in your cattle.

Also you’re going to make sure you have some sturdy fences when raising cattle. Cows are big and heavy creatures and will tear through things like tissue paper if they’re not built to withstand them. While fences are expensive to build and maintain, one “hot” wire (a wire hooked up into an electric fence charger) will make sure that the cows keep off the fence and will help preserve it.

PastureSeasoned farmers have told us that a mixture of alfalfa, brome, and timothy is considered the best pasture for cattle as it encourages grazing. However, don’t overestimate the carrying capacity of your pastures. While you might see some great lush growth in the spring, that growth will easily turn into much drier and shorter come July and August and you can easily end up with too many cattle and not enough pasture. Plan ahead so you have more grass than cattle and not the opposite.

WaterFinally, make sure you have a good supply of water. Just to give you an idea, cows, on average, drink about 12 gallons of water per day. This average is a good rule of thumb to remember when setting up troughs or tubs as a water source. For the winter time, tank heaters are a great way to save your back from doing too much ice chopping as the weather drops.

Well thanks for coming by for some tips on how to raise cattle, come back next week to see some more tips on how to maintain your cattle and as always, for all your tag needs make sure to check out our range of cattle tags.

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

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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.

lamb[1]

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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