Properly tagging livestock

Ear tagging is a common form of identification for livestock. Putting a tag in an animal’s ear isn’t much different than a human getting their ears pierced. It should be done properly to make sure the tag stays in place and avoid problems such as ear infections.

Paul Beck is an extension livestock specialist at Oklahoma State University. He says there are different types of tags and applicators so it’s important that you’re familiar with the equipment.  

"If you have the wrong applicator for the type of tag you use, many times that pin will not push it all the way through the tag. It’ll push the metal piece of that pin through the sidewall of the tag pin and then it doesn’t work, and it won’t stay," says Beck. "So, you need to be sure you’ve got the same brand and same type of tag applicator as you do the tag you’re using."

Have the animals secured in a chute or in such a way that they can’t toss their head around. Use a disinfectant on the tagging equipment as well as the tagging site in the ear. Beck says for a permanent ID in cattle, there is a specific spot where the tag should go.

"You really want to put that tag in about the middle third of the ear, and about halfway up the ear between the cartilage ribs. And that holds that tag more permanently. It makes it harder for that tag to get caught on something and ripped out," he says.

Beck says to be aware of any implants in the ear. You might have to move the implant to suit the tag placement, or slightly alter where you attach the tag.