Forms of Identification

Identification within the cattle industry is a very important part of management and record keeping. It is important that as beef producers we use a form of identification to differentiate our cattle from one another, as well as keep our records complete and understandable through documentation. There are four main types of identification that beef producers can choose to use within their cattle herds. No one identification method is better or worse than the other. Depending on geographic location is a big determining factor of identification and how producers will choose to identify their cattle. Below are the four identification methods that beef producers use to identify their cattle within the herds.

ear tag

Ear tags are comparable to an earring in a human. Displayed on the outside of the ear with numbers or letters, this method of identification is used more so within smaller herd sizes because the ear tags are not super big. Reading them may require being a closer distance to the animal, but ear tags can come in multiple colors which can differentiate owners within a family or breeds within a herd.

tatoo

A tattoo is a form of identification within the ear. Little needles pinch through the ear flesh and leave permanent holes within the ear. Both numbers and letters are used in this form of identification which is used specifically for show cattle. Tattoo identification is used to match identity on record papers, which is comparable to a humans birth certificate. The letters signify the year which is universal for all herds and the numbers indicate the order of birth between calves on the certain farm.

hot branding

Hot branding is a prevalent form of identification within large herds, specifically out west due to the large number of cattle within all ranchers herds. This form of identification uses hot coals to burn the hair off of the animal and can be seen at far away distances. Only hurting for minimum time, both letters and numbers are burned into the animal to signify a specific farm. Because pasture land is plentiful and herds are larger, it is important that ranches brand their cattle at a young age to identify their calves versus a neighbors which also prevents stealing.

freeze branding

Freeze branding is comparable to hot branding where the brand is permanent to the animal with both letters and numbers. Freeze branding uses extreme cold to kill the cells in the animal’s skin that produce pigmentation, or color, and is a prevalent method out west where herd sizes are large. A freeze branded animal will have white hair where the freeze branding iron touched the skin.

We all have a form of identification to differentiate us from other people, and the same is with cattle and cattle herds. Methods are helpful and necessary within beef herds to increase healthy management and effective record keeping.

Happy Tuesday!

Demi

 

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