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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Hog Tattooing Made Easy

Pigs at a farm playing in a trough

Whether destined for market or bred to live on the farm, it is important—and in most areas legally required—that livestock be clearly identified. Livestock identification can take several forms, including tagging, tattooing, electronic implants, high-tech transponders, or a combination of these methods. However, when it comes to hogs, one of the most common methods used is tattooing, as it is less costly than branding, damages the animal’s skin less, and is less painful and stressful to the animal.
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