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Ear Tagging Goats

Animals are ear tagged to enable easy identification for drafting into mating, shearing and kidding mobs and for easy recording of fleece weights, live weights and reproductive performance during selection programs.

Easy to read tags.

The easiest tags to read have black print on white, yellow or orange tags. The hardest tags to read have hand printing on black, purple, brown, red or dark blue tags. Tags collect dirt and make darker tags harder still to read.

Reliable tags

The best place for tagging is in the centre of the ear about two thirds of the way up from the end. My experience suggests that small round tags are the most reliable - i.e they don't pull out as often as other plastic and metal tags I have tested. At about 1 year of age, slightly larger tags can be used but are not necessary on wethers. Some people prefer swivel tags. Tag numbers may be obscured by fleece as shearing approaches - however if you put the tags too low in the ear then the chances of losing the tag increases greatly as the tags may tear out.

If tags are well placed in the ear, less than 1% will be lost each year. However, loss rate will be higher if goats are kept in scrub and rough bush.

It is unwise to use leader design sheep tags - goats will chew the end, destroy the embossed writing and they tend to tear out faster than many other types of tag.

Use logIcal numbers

Tag numbers should follow logical and sensible orders. Use numbering systems that do not overlap (these systems are almost idiot proof). There is no need to put detailed tattoo numbers or even origin of the goat on the ear tag. Logical numbering and good computer record systems will solve these problems easily. You may use different colours to represent different grades of goats or different years, but decide and stick to a system.

Year AGreen tags 1 to 500
Year BYellow tags 501 to 1000
Year COrange tags 1001 to 1500
Year DWhite tags 1501 to 2000

Or an alternative system might be:

Bucks Green tags1 to 1000
Does Yellow tags1001 to 3000
Wethers Orange tags3001 to 5000

Thus drafting is easy (based on tag colour).

Remember to order the colours and number that you need and don't just take what the stock agent has left on his shelf.

If you purchase goats, tag them in your system. It is usually best to remove other tags to avoid confusion. You may wish to easily identify new goats so, perhaps, put a bright pink tag in the other ear.

Tags can be misread . Tag 99 can be misread for 66. Read tags carefully.

Shearing and weighing

Tags should be placed in the 'left hand' ear of the goat to facilitate reading during shearing (most shearers are right handed). This means that for weighing goats your scales should be set up so that you are on the left hand side on the goats to make tag reading easier.

Duplicate tagging

Where maintaining animal identity is important consider using duplicate tags (one in each ear). These maybe the same colour and number or they may code different information. Where they are different keep a tag book correlating the two numbers of each animal.

When handling your goats, always have a supply of spare tags on hand - tags do pull out and a quick replacement can lead to ready identification. If you leave goats untagged it will be very difficult or impossible to re-identify them correctly in six months time when several goats maybe untagged. Keep your tags, applicator, note book and pen together in a small box.

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