A capacity for self-propelled locomotion being one of the hallmarks of what we define as “life,” it follows that keeping track of living things is by no means a simple task. Most creatures, including human beings, are curious by nature, and our innate wanderlust is a manifestation of that curiosity. It’s what has spread our species to every (habitable and not so habitable) corner of the globe, and so we have devised a complicated system of paperwork and documentation to make sure that people are who, what, and where they say they are. Think of I.D. cards, passports, and such as livestock tags for humans.
Owners of domesticated pets, such as dogs, cats, and even ferrets, wonder about the necessity of getting their animals inoculated against rabies in this day and age and—to add insult to injury—making them indefinitely wear visible rabies license tags to show they’ve been vaccinated. The short answer is Yes, it is necessary! Unlike smallpox (the only microbe-caused disease known, as of 1980, to be effectively eradicated globally), rabies still thrives in parts of the world. Because they are mammals, your furry pets are vulnerable.
A few years ago we wrote a blog about “The Naming of Goats.” Then, just recently, while shopping on Etsy, we ran across a store selling name tags for goats. And that got us to thinking: Why would a goat need a name tag at all?
Goats are quite amazing creatures in numerous ways. One way, of course, is their remarkable eating habits. The ultimate omnivores, they are known to chomp on everything even vaguely edible—or inedible, for that matter—from grass to tree bark to toxic plants, including poison oak and knapweed. They even have a documented appetite for litter when left unchaperoned. Indeed, that is the theme of the American folk song “Bill Grogan’s Goat”:
One day that goat felt frisk and fine—
Ate three red shirts right off the line.
Some dog and cat owners sometimes wonder why their animal needs to wear a pet license tag (also called a pet I.D.) all the time. This is especially true of the owners of strictly indoor cats, or of dogs restricted to secure, fenced-in backyard enclosures. The answer can be summed up in three words: safety, safety, and safety.
The fact is, with incentive enough (e.g., a squirrel on the run), most pets are smart and determined enough to thwart the most secure enclosure. A fence can be leapt over or dug under, or your careless teenager can leave the front door ajar—and then, before you know it, your pet is outside and in the wind.
Sorry, this blog isn’t about that time you and your friends went out and drank way too much and on a dare you all ended up getting a bunch of truly horrible tattoos that you really, really regretted the next morning, and now you’re desperate to get yours removed before your mom or your girlfriend sees it. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place.
No, this is actually about domesticated hogs and the various ways a pig farmer can easily identify individual animals within a drove for later processing—specifically, by tattooing a series of numbers and/or letters on the pig’s ear or shoulder or back. For the ear, you use a special ear tattoo plier; and for the back or shoulder, you use a hog shoulder-slapper.
Both tools use special metal needlepoint alphanumeric characters, called dies, that can be slipped in and out of the applicator as needed. Last but not least, you need livestock tattoo ink, which comes in green or black colors.