9 Important Reasons For Cattle Identification

When you walk outside in the morning do your animals call to you? Do you know each by sight? By name? I’m sure we all can and do. Now….If I asked you very specific information on one of your animals…would you know the answer?

Let’s face it, when you spend hours a day with your animals you get to know them. You know them by sight. By name. And I bet some of you know each of them by the sounds they make. But do you remember every little piece of info for *every* animal? Yeah, probably not. I know I certainly don’t. This momma has mom brain and about 10 different irons in the fire, don’t ask me who the parents are of all our 2 yr old calves lol. That’s just one reason why having individual cattle identification for you animals can be a total benefit.

  • How Cattle Identification can help you, the homesteader
    -Tell which calves belong to which cows
    -Track bloodlines to reduce chances of heavy line breeding
    -Help you make decisions: like who to breed to what bull, or what cattle should go to each pasture
    -If your cattle look similar you can tell them apart, it’s also easier to tell others which cow you are talking about
    -Don’t have to guess information (age/dam/sire/sex)
    -Accurate ID for sickness or disease treatment

We have our own system for identifying our cattle. Like most other producers we use a 4 digit system on our ear tags. The first 2 digits are the year that particular animal was born. The 3rd digit is the cows assigned number, we have a small herd so we are currently only using single idgits. The 4th digit is a letter that is assigned to each individual bull/sire (normally the first letter of their name). We also tattoo each cow or calf’s tag number in their ear so that should they loose or rip their tag out there is no question what digits need to go on their new tag.


cattle id bull vs heifer
On the left: Bull(R ear), Born ’18, Mom’s #4, Sire B ~ On the right:Heifer(L ear), born ’18, Mom’s #3, Sire B




One other thing we do is change placement of our tags according to gender. All bulls and steers have a tag and tattoo in their right ear. All the cows and heifers have a tattoo and tag in their left ear. We do this for two reasons. First, being able to tell gender on our animals without having to tip on our heads or get binoculars out is *always* a bonus. Second, all cows/heifers are required to have their BANGS vaccination before their 1st birthday. This also includes a tattoo and metal ear tag, So not to confuse the information, we place our herd information in the opposite ear.

  • How identification can help others help you
    -Help others ID individual cows when farm sitting (do any of us actually take      vacations???)
    -If one or more of your animals becomes lost, ID can help bring them home faster
    -If you are lucky enough to have help when working cows, ID can help make sorting and treating faster

9 Important Reasons For Cattle Identification

Individual identification for your cattle, whether permanent or temporary, is nothing but positive for both you and any outside help. Working and handling cattle can be stressful enough, having a simple and clear ID system in place can make moments like “Let this cow through the gate??” “No the *other* red cow!!!” be few and far between.

Do you have cows? Do you want some? How many? Leave me a note below and lets talk cows.


Love, grace, and blessings to your place.



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