animal id pp

Agriscience 332
Animal Science
TEKS: (c)(6)(C)
The marking of animals for
identification purposes has been
practiced since ancient times.
The Babylonians, Egyptians,
Greeks, and Romans all used some
form of marking method to identify
animals and establish ownership.
Eventually, these identification
methods became elements of English
Common Law.
In the United States, ranchers and
farmers practiced livestock
identification beginning in the 1800’s.
Photo by John Grabill, Library of Congress, courtesy of Wikipedia.
Cattle ranchers employed livestock
identification methods to discourage
theft and to exhibit ownership,
while hog producers utilized ear
notches for registration and
The identification of animals is
important for ownership purposes,
breeding pedigrees, livestock
production systems, disease
prevention and eradication, and
food safety.
Because of concerns related to
the terrorist attacks in the United
States on September 11, 2001,
animal identification is also
important to help prevent
bioterrorism and secure
protection of national herds.
Additional reasons for animal
identification systems include
foreign animal disease control
and prevention, identification of
animals involved in interstate or
international commerce, and risk
assessment in support of
international trade.
Various methods of identification
are available, the use of which is
determined by the species of
Identification Methods Used For
Selected Species of Animals
Animal Species
Type of Marker
Where Marker is Applied
Ear Tags or Clips Close to head in ears
Ear Studs
Close to head in ears
Leg Bands
Above hock on rear legs
Inner surface of the ear
Ear Studs
Ear Tags
Inner surface of ears
Coded in ears
Close to head in ears
Close to head in ears
Animal Species
Type of Marker
Where Marker is Applied
Sheep and
Ear Studs
Ear Tags
Collars with discs
Inner surface of the ear
Coded in ears
Close to head in ears
Close to head in ears
Around neck, comfortably
Ducks, Geese,
and Turkeys
Leg Band
Leg Ring
Wing Clip
Wing Bands
Closely around legs
Closely around legs
Front edge of wings
Around wing above radial
close to body
Animal Species
Type of Marker
Where Marker is
Animal Species Type of Marker
Applied Where Marker is Applied
Sheep and Goats
in ears
discs ofInner
surface of the ear
in earsCharts & records
to head
in ears
to head in earsDorsal
part of
comfortably Ear Tags
Around leg above hoof
Nose Prints
Print of nose recorded
Chickens, Ducks, and Geese
Leg Band
Leg Ring
Wing Clip
wing Bands
legs mane
lip, on
neck under
Closely around Collars
Front edge
of wings around
wing above radial
to body Charts & records accordingly
Dorsal part of shoulders/hip
Around leg just above hoof
Leg bands
Cattle and horses are more
commonly branded than are other
domesticated animal species.
There are two types of branding
• Running iron – is straight with a
small 90° hook on the end; and
• Stamping iron – has a pre-formed
letter or number on the end.
Each type of branding iron can
be used for freeze branding or
hot branding.
Hot irons are constructed from
steel or copper; they usually have
long handles to distance the
operator from the heat.
Freezing irons may have shorter
handles and are also made from
steel or copper; however, the
copper iron cools quicker and
transfers the cold more rapidly.
Hot Branding
Hot branding is also known as fire
It is permanent and leaves a brand
that is visible from a long distance.
Disadvantages of hot branding:
• Experience is needed to form
brands that can be read;
• Hair on top of brands must be
clipped during the winter for
clear recognition;
• Damage to the skin is undesirable
to the tanning industry; and
• Some people believe that
branding is inhumane.
The steps to follow in hot branding:
• Heat iron to the proper
• Restrain the animal;
• Do not brand wet hides (causes
scalding and excessive scarring);
• Clip the hair, if it is heavy or
extremely dirty;
• Brand only on the shoulder, neck,
or thigh. Leave the jaw free
from branding to allow health
authorities to mark brucellosis
or tuberculosis animals, as
needed; and
• Firmly hold the iron on the hide
until the brand turns a dark tan
color (for 3 to 5 seconds). The
brand will take the appearance
of saddle leather. Rock the
iron slightly to get a uniform
Some producers will horn brand,
which is hot branding the horns.
The only difference is that smaller
irons are used.
In young animals, this must be
repeated every 2 to 3 years
because of horn growth.
Another method of hot branding
involves the use of an electric iron.
It is pre-shaped in a design or in
certain numbers.
The electric iron is a good way
to brand because it maintains a
constant temperature.
A disadvantage is that it requires
an electrical source for heating
the iron.
Freeze Branding
Freeze branding (cryogenic branding)
marks animals by super-freezing the
Freeze branding is
more humane than
is hot branding.
Photo by M. Jasek.
Disadvantages of freeze branding:
• Producers must clip the freeze
brands in winter for visibility.
Freeze branding causes the hair
on the brand to turn white,
thus hindering visibility of the
brand in the winter;
• The white brand shows well on
black hides, but is difficult to
see on white, yellow, and red
hides; and
• For a small group of animals,
freeze branding is expensive.
Steps to follow when freeze branding:
• Cool iron in
either alcohol
and dry ice or in
liquid nitrogen
placed in a
styrofoam ice
• Restrain the animal;
• Clip the area to be branded;
• Soak the area to be branded
with alcohol, using a squirt
bottle or sponge; and
• Firmly hold the cold iron on the area
for 20 to 30 seconds for white
animals to produce a bald brand
suitable for identification after
Branding System
Producers may use letters or numbers
system, which may sometimes include
symbols or pictures.
The angle system may also be used to
represent numbers.
Brands are read from left to right,
from top to bottom, and when the
brand is enclosed, it is read from
the outside to the inside.
Letters can be upright, lazy, flying,
running, connected, combined,
reversed, or hanging.
In the angle system, a series of
right angles and straight lines
symbolize numbers, as shown
The A stands for purebred Arabian. The
two stacked symbols are the year of
the horse’s birth. The remaining
symbols are its registration number.
Depending on state regulations,
brands are filed at the county clerk’s
office or with the state livestock
Along with the brand design, the
location of the brand on the animal
must be registered.
A brand that is properly applied and
registered is legal proof of ownership.
Tattoos are a permanent and easy
way to mark animals.
Many purebred registry associations
require tattooing.
The only disadvantage is having to
catch and restrain the animal to
identify it.
Cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and
rabbits are tattooed in the ears.
The horse is tattooed on the upper
Ear Tattoo Procedure:
• Clean the ear to remove all dirt
and wax;
• Set the tattoo pliers to the desired
• Position the tattoo pliers near the
center of the ear. Avoid the ribs
and blood vessels of the ear;
• Firmly clamp the pliers on the
• Rub the tattoo ink into the
puncture holes until the
bleeding stops; and
• Clean and disinfect the pliers
before use on the next animal.
Lip tattoo procedure:
• Roll and hold back the upper lip;
• Clean lip with a piece of cotton
saturated with alcohol;
• Place the tattoo gun on the lip,
making sure that the numerals
are square with the lip. Firmly
grip the gun as you trigger it;
• Rub the tattoo ink into the holes
until bleeding discontinues.
Ear Notching
Ear notching is commonly used to
identify pigs, but some sheep
producers may also use the system.
Ear notching is a practical and
permanent means of identification.
The ear notching system for the
individual pigs is universal.
The notches in the right ear designate
the litter number; those in the left ear
represent the pig number.
Right Ear
Litter Number
Left Ear
Pig Number
Photo by Ken Hammond courtesy of USDA Photography Center.
When notching, do not make notches
too close to each other as this causes
the ear to weaken and tear, possibly
causing a loss of part of the ear.
Producers ear notch pigs at 1 to 3
days of age, along with clipping
needle teeth and castrating.
The only equipment required is a
sharp knife or a “V” notcher, which
is safer and quicker.
Photo by Scott Bauer courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service.
Ear Tags
Ear tagging is
another method
of identification.
Photo by Lynn Betts courtesy of USDA Natural Conservation Resource Service.
Tags are commonly made of flexible
plastic, which allows the tag to bend
Ear tag data should be seen from
the front of the animals and easily
read when observing animals in a
pen or chute.
Tags are available in various
shapes and sizes, with preprinted
numbers or blank to allow the
operator to record data with a
permanent marker.
The animal should be restrained
before ear tagging.
Special ear tag pliers are used to
attach the tag toward the tip of the
ear and between the ribs of the ear.
Ear tagging is not a permanent
means of identification.
Tags can be torn from the ears
and lost.
Producers use ear tags only as a
secondary means of identification,
with brands or tattoos as primary
identification methods.
Neck Chains and Collars
Producers use neck chains on
dairy cattle and collars on sheep
and goats.
A neck chain is easy to attach to
the animal and easy to read
without restraint.
The chain should have a weak
link or spring link to allow for
release in case extreme pressure
is placed on the chain.
Producers make adjustments to
chains or collars as the animals
Natural Markings
Producers identify animals in
small herds by observing natural
colors and markings, sex, and hair
texture and length.
A producer can sketch an outline
of the animal and its markings,
and then color the sketched
Ear Marking Studs
Also called a “bachelor button,”
the aluminum stud is clamped to
the ear (near the head to prevent
the stud from being dislodged).
The stud or button is numbered or
lettered with a designated code.
Wing and Leg Bands
Wing and leg bands for poultry are
The wing band is applied close to
the body and should not interfere
with the bird’s activity.
Commercially available are
adjustable, plastic splint bands of
different colors and sizes and lightweight aluminum bands.
Wing and leg bands are usually
pre-numbered or lettered.
Wing Clips
A wing clip may be in a form similar
to a “gilt safety pin” or a tamperproof clip called a “ketchum tag.”
Photo by Peggy Greb courtesy of USDA Agricultural Research Service.
The tamper-proof clip is a thin
aluminum strip or band that is
doubled over and, with the use of
special pliers, clamps a pointed
end into the receiving end.
Computer Chip Implants & Bar-coding
The computer chip is implanted in
the ear (similar to a hormone
The computer chip can be
scanned as the animal walks
through a chute, with any data
needs obtained from (or provided
to) the computer record system.
A similar system consists of
barcoding the ear tag.
Breed Registries
Breed registries employ numerous
identification methods, with each
method specific to the organization.
A breed registry association includes
breeders of a specific animal breed.
The purposes of breed registry
associations include the following:
• Record an animal’s ancestry to
provide a genetic history of the
registered animal, allow a
breeder to trace the animal’s
ancestry, and allow a breeder
to advertise the animal for a
higher price;
• Encourage breed improvement;
• Protect the purity of some
animals; and
• Promote the interest of the
Correct identification of individual
animals is an important livestock
management skill.
The type of identification used
depends on the animal and the
particular situation.
Most animals require a combination
of two or more identification
systems to ensure quick, positive
An animal’s identification number or
mark should last for the life of the
animal to minimize recordkeeping
Reproduction or redistribution of all, or
part, of this presentation without
written permission is prohibited.
Instructional Materials Service
Texas A&M University
2588 TAMUS
College Station, Texas 77843-2588
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