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animal identification

June 4, 2010

Herd management is important whether rabbits, cattle, goats, sheep or any other animal. These first four species have a common means of identification that is sometimes misunderstood and misrepresented.

A tattoo such as pictured above gives a series of letters and numbers that correspond to a pedigree record that also matches the tattoo to the animal. This is needed for positive identification of registered animals but is also important for tracking treatments, health records and other care given to the animal.

A plier like device holds the letters and numbers. As the animal’s ear is swiped to remove wax, dirt and other debris that can interfere with the tattoo, the letters are double checked to insure they are correct. I triple check by using a piece of paper to insure numbers aren’t transposed or reversed.

Then the animal is restrained, the tattoo pliers quickly positioned and squeezed to put the numbers or letters in the ear, and tattoo ink rubbed liberally in the holes. The whole procedure is over in the time it takes you to read this paragraph! When facing 10-20-30 white or chinchilla or other color rabbits it’s important to be able to tell them apart…and more so if 100-200-300!

Larger livestock are usually done as youngsters, when still with their mothers or as soon as the ear will ‘hold’ the tattoo. Rabbits are typically done at weaning which allows a ‘first sift’ of rabbits that will be kept for breeding or showing (and thus need the tattoo) and those that will go for meat (which don’t need the tattoo). Larger livestock also typically have a tag applied to the ear as youngsters – often the opposite ear of the tattoo. This way the tag allows the herdsman to identify the animal without catching to look at the tattoo. If an animal should lose the tag then the ear tattoo provides a backup identification. These tags and tattoos are no more a problem for the animal than us getting our ears pierced…a momentary discomfort. Many are more anxious about the restraint than the pin prick of tag or tattoo.

Animal identification is an important part of paperwork. Although some say animals with a number are less valued than a name this is quite untrue. It is because they are valued that an individual number distinct from any other in the herd is assigned. There may be two Rose or Sarah or other names but the individual number insures the right animal is referenced.

Better for animal care, better for people.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2010 6:11 PM

    Excellent post on Animal Identification, we need more posts like this, to explain all aspects, and types of Animal Identificaton.

    Animal Identification

  2. Janice permalink
    June 8, 2010 4:19 AM

    I hadn’t though so much about it in rabbits & goats! I’m more familiar with it in cattle. Thanks for the info.


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