Why do we tag?

And I am not talking about hash tagging, but tagging cattle! Everyone ear tags their cattle a little different or at different times; and that is perfectly fine! Everyone makes a cake a little different also but the end result is normally the same, a wonderful yummy cake. Our result tagging cattle is also the same; a unique number is given to each calf or cow use to identify them!

Imagine a sea of black, black cute little baby calves. You can tell some of them apart because their face may be longer or they are a little smaller or have a bit of white on their belly.

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As you watch them play and run around you notice a larger black calf off by itself. It doesn’t look so good, he has a runny nose and he is not eating. You decide he needs a shot of antibiotics. You call the vet and get the prescription and dosage. When you go back to find the calf you have no idea which one he is!

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You want to be sure you give the correct calf the antibiotics! This is where ear tagging comes into play. We ear tag the calves a month or two after they have been born. When we ear tag them we also castrate the males, which means we remove their testicles in a safe manner. Castrating helps decrease the amount of testosterone in the males, which makes them less aggressive and creates a better quality meat . The decreased amount of testosterone leads to better marbling in the meat, higher quality grade, and a meat that is more tender.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged, we turn them back out with their moms.They will stay with the cows and drink their milk, eat hay, and a little bit of grain until they reach approximately seven months old. Then we will wean them or take them off of their mother’s milk.

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Once the calves have been ear tagged the ear tag is mostly permanent, unless the animal happens to tear it off or it becomes faded. If we have to re-tag the animal, we can simply cut the tag off and re-tag them.

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Ear tags help producers keep accurate records of their animals. It is important for producers to be able to identify their animals to provide a safe food supply to consumers! Have questions? Leave me a comment!

-Bethany

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