Ear tagging; if it isn't done right, tags can be torn out on a hay twine or heavy brush or lead to infected ears, or possibly eye irritation from the tags hitting the eye when the ears are twitched.
Chris Richards, Oklahoma State University beef cattle specialist, says ear tags are usually classified into 1 of 3 styles: 1-piece plastic, 2-piece plastic and metal. "These tags vary in shape, size, color and method of attachment to the ear," he says.
Here are proper tagging techniques recommended by Richards and OSU animal science personnel:
- Properly secure the animal. Movement of the animal's head may cause injury to the handler or livestock, or result in improper tagging. So calves should be eased into a chute with a head gate, halter and/or nose lead.
- Identify the tagging site. Tags should be applied in the middle-third of the ear between the upper and lower ribs. When using electronic identification (EID) tags, it's important to apply the tag with the visual panel, or male portion of the tag on the outside back of the ear with the EID button, and the female portion of the tag on the inside of the ear.
- Use proper hygiene and cleanliness. Use rubbing alcohol or a disinfectant solution to clean the jaw of the applicator. Also, clean the tagging site of the animal's ear.
- Place each half of the tag onto the applicator. The stud must be inserted completely onto the applicator pin and the female portion placed under the opposite clip.
- Check alignment of the tagger. Do so by closing the jaw of the applicator to the point where the 2 halves meet. The stud should be centered with the hole.
- Position the applicator. Again, this is in the identified tagging site on the animal's ear. Firmly close the applicator in a fast manner and release.
- Examine the tag. Verify that it's positioned correctly, comfortably and secure. Record the necessary data on the animal.
- Richards says ear tags large enough to be read from a distance help identify cattle quickly and easily.
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