Have you ever wondered what the the colored plastic number “earrings” are that you see in the ears of cattle. They’re called ear tags, and they’re really important.
What are ear tags for?
Ear tags are needed for animal identification. They make it possible for us to identify and keep accurate records about each calf, heifer, steer, cow and bull.
When you stop and think about it, animal identification has been around for a really long time. As soon as a family brings home a pet, they purchase a collar and tag for their new puppy or kitty. Similarly, we use ear tags to identify our cattle immediately.
What information is identified using ear tags?
For calves, our records include things like their gender, age, weight, and which cow is its mom.
Our records for the mama cows include additional information like when she had her last calf and how many calves she has had in her lifetime. We also want to know which calf belongs to each cow .
Ear tags come in all different colors and types. Usually, farmers have a meaning behind the colors they use and which ear the tag is in.
For example, on our farm, ear tags in the calf’s left ear mean it’s a heifer (girl) and in the right ear means it’s a steer (boy).
When does a calf get an ear tag?
Since we’re a cow-calf farm and our calves are born on our farm, we give them ear tags when they’re calves.
We bring them into our barn, they go into a cattle chute, we give them an ear tag and then they go back outside with their mom. The entire process is sort of like a person getting their ears pierced. Just like earrings for people, it doesn’t hurt the calf at all.
Here’s a video of Matt giving a new calf an ear tag.
One more thing!
Do you want to learn more about beef? Below are a few popular beef posts and recipes you may like. In addition, we have an entire ebook about beef that goes through purchasing and preparing beef from a farmers perspective.
- Buying a Cow. How Much Beef Is It?
- Is It Done Yet? Why Every Kitchen Needs a Digital Meat Thermometer and the Best One
- Dry Rub or Marinade for Steak? Know What’s Best
- Ebook – An Essential Guide to Beef: A Cattle Farm Shares How to Purchase & Prepare Beef
We have a weekly e-newsletter where we share about farm happenings, when our next beef availability is, and all things beef. When you do, you’ll get a cheat sheet with 9-must-ask questions before buying beef directly from a farmer.
Do you have other questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We love to talk beef!