Tattooing and ear notching techniques – Farmer’s Weekly

Posted in Tattooing on Nov 02, 2021

Tattooing and ear notching are widely used techniques to mark livestock. Each has its own advantages, disadvantages, application techniques and specific uses.

Tattooing is a marking technique in which a permanent mark is placed in an unobtrusive area such as on the ear of an animal.

It consists of a pattern of closely-spaced dark dots depicting numbers, letters or a combination of the two, imbedded in the bare skin using black ink, generally on the inside of the ear.

If properly done, a tattoo is as distinctive and permanent as a brand and complies with the requirements of both animal identification legislation and breed regulations.

The tattoo will be legible and permanent if the correct equipment, permanent tattoo ink and procedure is used. Inferior quality ink can be absorbed into the bloodstream, causing it fade.

Tattoo pliers are designed to accommodate a combination of easy-change standard 3/8 character dies that cannot be inserted upside down.

The dies contain sharp, nickel-plated steel needles set in a fiberglass reinforced nylon base and are available as numbers and letters.

The needles pierce the skin to make clear and readable marks.

Black tattoo ink is used for normal use and green tattoo ink for animals with a black or darkly pigmented skin.

Ear notching is a simple and handy method to identify animals individually from a distance.

There are variations in systems, but each identifies the animal by an individual number expressed in the relative positions of a combination of notches in the ear rim. It can be used for all livestock species, but is particularly common in the pig industry.

It involves removing V-shaped or U-shaped portions of the ear rim in a specific and individual combination of positions, using a special ear notching pair of pliers. A sharp knife gives less predictable and controllable results.

Thus no two animals will have the same combination of notches. Not all operations may find it necessary to use individual numbers, but individual numbers are needed when any animal has to be recognised separately from others. Other marking systems may be used in combination with ear notches.

A variation of this technique is ear punching, in which holes are punched through the ear shell, using a pair of hole punch pliers.

Tell us which technique you use to identify your cattle. Leave your answers in the comments section below.

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Tattooing and ear notching techniques - Farmer's Weekly

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