An Essential Tool in Livestock Management
Ear tags provide a visual aid for unique identification (such as a flock or premise number) and can help to identify sex, year of birth, sire, dam and much more. Here are some helpful tips for how we use ear tags at Premier.
1. To indicate sex
- Allows rapid sorting by sex while sheep and goats are moving down a chute or in a holding pen.
- No need to spend valuable time to “check the plumbing” of each animal. Keeps your hands clean! To do this:
- Males: Insert the primary tag in left ear.
- Females: Insert the primary tag in right ear.
2. To indicate year of birth
Benefit: No need to catch them to check teeth. A tag can tell you the age from 25 ft away. Faster decisions when sorting for culling or breeding. Two ways to do this (we do both):
- Use a different color for each year.
- Begin tag number series with the year of birth. Example—tag 17275 indicates lamb is the 275th lamb tagged in 2017.
3. To indicate sire (and dam)
Benefit: No need to check records. Three ways to do this:
- Use a different color second tag for each sire (blue tags = Sire XYZ; purple tags = Sire ABC).
- Have sire name printed on the tag of its progeny.
- Handwrite the ewe’s tag number with a marking pen on the lamb’s tag. If space is limited write it on the inner surfaces of the tag. Note: Since tags can be lost, we strongly advise using 2 sire/dam tags (one in each ear).
4. To indicate problems
Benefit: Allows rapid, positive culling of animals with foot problems, dystocia, mastitis, prolapse, etc. Two ways to do this:
- Put a tag that says “cull” (or a black tag) into problem animals.
- Use an ear notcher to mark the animal for culling.
5. To indicate single, twin or triplet
Benefit: Speeds up sorting for breeding and sale purposes. Reduces need to consult records. To do this, use a different color for each lamb type. Repeat these colors every year. Premier’s code is:
- blue = single
- green = twin
- orange = triplet
Identical to plan when marking ewes or lambs with Sprayline.
If you use tags in your breeding flock, it’s wise to install a tag in both ears when they are baby lambs. Why? Because tag wounds in lambs heal quickly with less infection risk than tag wounds in adult animals—and thus provides a pre-existing, clean, firm hole when a larger tag needs to be installed.