If you have a herd of goats, sheep or other livestock, you will likely need some form of identification for them. In the United States, for instance, this is required by the USDA. This could be ear tattoos, or it could be ear tags. Both are excellent choices. But in this article we are going to cover everything you need to know about goat ear tags.
So, without further ado, let us dive right in and get started! There is a lot we need to cover.
Table of contents
- What are Goat Ear Tags?
- Is it Legally Required to Ear Tag Your Goats?
- What Information Will be On Your Goat’s Ear Tag?
- Tagging Goats Ears – How to Put Ear Tags On Goats
- Pros and Cons of Ear Tags for Goats
- Ear Tags versus Ear Tattoos on Goats
- USDA Resources
- Tagging Supplies
- Video: How To Ear Tag Boer Goats
- Final Thoughts
What are Goat Ear Tags?
A goat ear tag is a little plastic tag which is punctured through your livestock animal’s ear. There will be a number displayed on the tag which identifies them. Goat ear tags are used so that the animal can be identified easily. This will be especially useful if you have a large herd, and you need to maintain records for the animal.
Is it Legally Required to Ear Tag Your Goats?
In the United States, it is legally required for you to have some form of identification for your livestock. You can opt to use ear tags, tattoos or other forms of identification. The key point here is that you need to have identification for your animal. This information identifies the animal using the birth order, year they were born and the farm they were born on. All of this is key when you are identifying your goat as they will be identifiable should the animal be lost or stolen.
What Information Will be On Your Goat’s Ear Tag?
Adult animals with ear tags will generally have two tags. One which shows a unique number which identifies the animals and one tag that shows the herd or flock mark. You can also put other information on these tags. For example, you could put the sire of the animals on the tag somewhere. It is up to you.
Tagging Goats Ears – How to Put Ear Tags On Goats
For those of you that are seriously considering owning goats, it will likely not be a surprise that you might need to know the method for tagging goats ears. In this section we are going to take a closer look at the step-by-step process of using goat ear tags. So, without further ado, let us dive right in and get started!
Step 1 – Make a Record of Your Ear Tag Numbers
Before you do anything, you need to make a record of what ear tag number you are assigning to what goat. This way you are prepared and can simply grab the right tag while you are in the process of placing them on your goat’s ear.
Step 2 – Load the Ear Tag Applicator
Now that you have all the ear tags numbered properly, you need to load it into the ear tag applicator. Make sure that it is the right way and that your ear tag number is going to the right goat. While you can take the tags out if you make a mistake. It will hurt your animal more than necessary.
Step 3 – Restrain the Goat
This is not a comfortable process for your goat. You should be doing it to them white they are young as this makes it easier to restrain them. You can even do this while you are disbudding your goat kids. If you happen to be tagging an adult goat, you will need to make sure that you are straddling to keep them still. Their head also needs to be pressed against your or your attendant’s thigh to make sure that the animal does not move or jerk during the procedure.
Step 4 – Find the Right Stop to Put the Tag
You should not put your goat ear tag on anything. Avoid veins and the thick cartilage as this will hurt more and cause unnecessary bleeding. We recommend that you place it near the center of the ear so that it does not catch on things. This will reduce the risk of damage to your goats ear.
Step 5 – Get in Position and Make Sure the Tag is Correct
At this point you need to make sure that the ear tag applicator is positioned over the spot you have chosen. Now you need to squeeze the applicator hard to drive the tag through the skin. If your ear tags happen to have two parts make sure that the parts are facing the right way.
Step 6 – Comfort the Goat Kids
If you are tagging goat kids they will likely need comfort from their mothers or a bottle after they have been tagged. Bear in mind that tagging your goats ear is not very painful. It is akin to getting your own ear pierced.
Step 7 – Disinfect and You Are Done
You need to ensure that this location is disinfected again so that the wound does not become infected. With that, you should have a nice clear identification tag on your goats ear.
Tagging goats ears is a great way to keep track of your herd’s records, keep track of rabies and health certificates. Overall, this is a great way to make sure that information you have lines up with the specific animal. But it is useful for so much more than that.
Pros and Cons of Ear Tags for Goats
Using ear tags is not always the best idea for everyone. Some people do not like how ear tags look and opt for ear tattoos instead. But there are a series of pros and cons associated with this type of animal identification. We are going to go over what the positives and negatives are for goat ear tags. So, without further ado, let us dive right in and get started!
The pros associated with using ear tags for goats is as follows:
- This is an effective form of identification which is easily visible.
- Quick and simple application process.
- Affordable tags which you do not need skill to apply.
- Ear tags can last quite a long time.
- Suitable for most types of livestock.
- Blank tags are easy to come across.
- A variety of colors, shapes and sizes are available.
The cons associated with using ear tags for goats is as follows:
- If you apply ear tags incorrectly there can be infections, tissue problems and severe pain for the animal.
- This form of identification is semi-permanent as they can easily break off or be taken off by thieves.
- Metallic ear tags in particular are known for causing infections in cattle in particular.
- The applicator you are using must be of the same brand as the tags.
- Some places require you to reapply tags every year.
With all of that in mind, are ear tags the best form of identification for goats? Ear tattoos are permanent and effective. But are they actually a good choice for goats?
Ear Tags versus Ear Tattoos on Goats
As with ear tags, the use of ear tattoos is used as a way to identify livestock. It is a permanent method of identification, but it can be harder to apply. We have listed a few pros and cons associated with this alternative form of identification below.
The main pros associated with this form of identification are as follows:
- Permanent form of identification.
- Quick, simple and reliable to apply.
- Can be used with other I.D. methods.
- Can be used on most livestock.
- Tattoo applicators can be used for a lifetime.
Some of the cons associated with this form of livestock identification are as follows:
- Not easily visible.
- Does not always stand out on certain skin colors.
- Infection can happen if the tools are not properly cleaned.
So, which option should you go with? To answer this question, you need to consider what the issue is that you need to solve. Ear tags are a great way to keep personal records of an animal, especially if you have a large herd. You can note down any information you like on tags such as the animal’s personal number, sec, sire, date of birth and more.
Alternatively tattoos are most commonly used because they are an easy one and done form of I.D. which is more durable and can be used on more types of animals.
Which option you go with is entirely dependent on you and what you need identification for. Many places will require you to have I.D. of some kind for your animals so make sure you read up on this before you get goats or other livestock.
You can call the USDA at 1-866-USDA-TAG to have a flock ID assigned and/or to request free plastic tags for your animals.
The USDA presentation on Sheep And Goat Visual and Electronic Identification can be found here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_health/animal_diseases/scrapie/downloads/niaa-sheep-and-goat-id-requirements.pdf
The USDA webpage for Sheep and Goat Identification can be found here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/animal-disease-information/sheep-and-goat-health/scrapie-tags/id
Nasco is a good source of tagging supplies.
Video: How To Ear Tag Boer Goats
This short video takes you through what type of tags you can use, exactly were to place the tag, wound care, and the tagging itself, all in about 5 minutes. It’s a must watch!
We hope that you have enjoyed reading this article and learning about goat ear tags. It may seem cruel to some of you to use a tag on your goat’s ear like this. But we can assure you that it is necessary to identify your goats should disaster strike, or you need to move them across state lines.
With all of that said, if you have found this article useful, we recommend that you check out our website. We cover a wide range of topics some of which you are bound to find interesting or useful in some way.