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Cattle ID systems

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Bandsaw

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Perhaps with all the ear tag talk, some of you might share your numbering systems and what the number tells you.
 

backhoeboogie

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Its been discussed many times. You can likely do a search and find some threads on that discussion, year designations etc.

My system is quite simple. Heifers get a number tag. Nothing special other than an I.D. number unique for that heifer. That number is logged with the day she was born and who the dam and sire were. DOB goes on the back just for good measure.

Bulls get steered. They don't get a number. Just a fly tag. They are logged by who the dam was and DOB.

EVerything gets weaned by the almanac. Retained heifers keep their number and are segregated until old enough to breed.
 

randiliana

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OK, here is what ours means. It is pretty simple really.

Each and every cow in the herd gets a tag when she comes into the herd, either bought as a bred cow or breeding heifer, or shortly before they go out to pasture to be bred. I reuse tags, and I reuse #'s so if we sell a cow I will reuse her number on the next cow that needs a tag.

They are simply numbered. I start at 1 and work my way up. Every # may not have a cow attached to it at any given time. Right now we have approx 140 cows and yearling heifers and have #'s up to 170.

When a cow or heifer calves that calf gets a tag with the SAME # as its mama. Boys get orange, girls get white. Having them tagged the same as mama makes it a lot easier when we have to sort, or if we have a sick cow or calf. It is pretty easy to find the other half of the pair when they are tagged the same.

In addition to our herd management tag, all heifers get a tatto starting at 1 and including the year #. So this year I started with 1W and am now at 47W. This way, no matter what happens, short of her literally losing that ear, I will always have a permanant ID for each and every cow. Steers all get a RFID tag (mandatory in Canada for animals that are going to be sold) when they are born. Any heifers that we decide to sell will get a RFID tag shortly before they are sold.
 

showing71

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Well.... Since we have 2 breeds and crossbreds, we tag with different colors. Red for Angus, blue for Red Angus, and orange for crossbreds. When calves are born, they get tagged the same number and color as mom (left ear heifer, right ear bull/steer). After weaning and deciding who will be kept as a replacement or bull, they all get re-numbered.

Everybody gets tagged with the same first number, which is the last digit in the year (calves born in '08 start with 8, etc.). Then they get another number behind that, which has no particular order. So, for example, an Angus heifer will be red tag 81, a Red Angus would be blue tag 81, and a crossbred would be orange tag 81.

Above the big number, we put the dam's number just as a reference point. On the bulls, we put the dam's number and an abbreviation of the sire's name so it's easier to rattle off the bull's pedigree for a buyer.

All the purebred replacement heifers get freeze branded their tag number on their right hip. We sell a lot of crossbred bred and open heifers and yearling bulls, so we don't freeze brand those in case the buyer wants to re-number them.

Purebreds also get tattooed with their tag number and the letter that corresponds to the year.
 

Bandsaw

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That's pretty similar to our system. We freeze brand heifers going back to the herd. First number for the year born, and second set is just an individual number. 81, 82, etc. I tag calves at birth with the cow's number. White tags for bulls and colored for heifers. We can more easily make sure the calf is with momma if we sort into smaller groups during the summer. When we keep heifers, we know and can record the momma and sire. We used to just ear tag cows. We always seemed to lose just enough tags to keep the numbering system messed up. Biggest problem with the freeze branding is some grow their winter coat long enough to make the brand difficult to read. We gave some a little trim just before calving season this year and helped a lot.
 

lavacarancher

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My tagging system is pretty simple. It is a reference to a entry in a log book. All pertenant information is recored in the log book. The tag itself carries no intelligence but is a fly tag.
 

aussie_cowgirl

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They've implemented the NLIS system here in Australia which is a just a microchip ear tag system which is a fantastic thing IMO. But I still like flag tags and I like tagging at birth so obviously the tags are in order of DOB. Most places tag steers and heifers in different ears but I'm pretty sure the NLIS tag has to be in a certain ear. Been a while since I tagged... I'd be inclined to just write a S or a H on the tag now days...
 

OLF

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This years calves are 901W, 902W, 903W...
Heifers get a white tag in the left ear, bulls/steers get a blue tag in the right ear. Sire and dam are also on the tag.
The 900 and W are a little redundant. W is the Hereford year code (W=2009) and 900 is also for 2009. I use W because their Herefords and the 900 because it helps keep cattle listed by age on our computer filing system. Cattle are listed 805U, 806U, 905W, 906W instead of 5U, 5W, 6U, 6W...
Calves that are registered get tatooed OLF in right ear for the farm and their number (901W) in the left ear.
 

dun

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OLF":74taqd1y said:
This years calves are 901W, 902W, 903W...
Heifers get a white tag in the left ear, bulls/steers get a blue tag in the right ear. Sire and dam are also on the tag.
The 900 and W are a little redundant. W is the Hereford year code (W=2009) and 900 is also for 2009. I use W because their Herefords and the 900 because it helps keep cattle listed by age on our computer filing system. Cattle are listed 805U, 806U, 905W, 906W instead of 5U, 5W, 6U, 6W...
Calves that are registered get tatooed OLF in right ear for the farm and their number (901W) in the left ear.

If you put the letter first they'll still be in year order.
 

OLF

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dun":1uxwula8 said:
OLF":1uxwula8 said:
This years calves are 901W, 902W, 903W...
Heifers get a white tag in the left ear, bulls/steers get a blue tag in the right ear. Sire and dam are also on the tag.
The 900 and W are a little redundant. W is the Hereford year code (W=2009) and 900 is also for 2009. I use W because their Herefords and the 900 because it helps keep cattle listed by age on our computer filing system. Cattle are listed 805U, 806U, 905W, 906W instead of 5U, 5W, 6U, 6W...
Calves that are registered get tatooed OLF in right ear for the farm and their number (901W) in the left ear.

If you put the letter first they'll still be in year order.

You're absolutely right, I only realized that a few years after starting my current system. If I switch now, the system falls apart. I guess it wouldn't fall apart because the letter first cows would be listed after the number first cows, but I'm just too stubborn to change now. The zeros will mess it up a little next year, but I guess the A's would also in a few years. Oh well.
Thanks for pointing out my flaw. :oops:
 

CattleHand

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Thought I would share this story on how it shows the importance of keeping an organized system (and how much computers can help).

My grandpa told my cousin who had told me so that being said I remember most of what it was about not exact locations.

This one guy from where my grandpa farms was a younger man who kept track of all of his cattle on the computer with very complete records of weight, color, etc etc. One day someone had gone into one of his pastures and loaded up a few of his cattle. Since he had all the records he know exactly which ones were missing, what they looked like and everything else you would need to identify them with. He then called around to any livestock sale barn that may be withing hauling distance (I forget how far he called, maybe within an hours haul) and told them the details of what he was looking for. Sure enough he found his cattle and I think they caught up with the guy who had stolen them.

Anways, good records sure can save you.
 

dun

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OLF":ftxbnxkc said:
dun":ftxbnxkc said:
OLF":ftxbnxkc said:
This years calves are 901W, 902W, 903W...
Heifers get a white tag in the left ear, bulls/steers get a blue tag in the right ear. Sire and dam are also on the tag.
The 900 and W are a little redundant. W is the Hereford year code (W=2009) and 900 is also for 2009. I use W because their Herefords and the 900 because it helps keep cattle listed by age on our computer filing system. Cattle are listed 805U, 806U, 905W, 906W instead of 5U, 5W, 6U, 6W...
Calves that are registered get tatooed OLF in right ear for the farm and their number (901W) in the left ear.

If you put the letter first they'll still be in year order.

You're absolutely right, I only realized that a few years after starting my current system. If I switch now, the system falls apart. I guess it wouldn't fall apart because the letter first cows would be listed after the number first cows, but I'm just too stubborn to change now. The zeros will mess it up a little next year, but I guess the A's would also in a few years. Oh well.
Thanks for pointing out my flaw. :oops:

If we buy an animal with a number (tattoo) like 157W I still record it as W157 and tag it the same way
 

SRBeef

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I have been looking for a good system also. I use Cattlemax which means that I could give any animal any number and know dam/sire/DOB etyc but in the field feedingor mowing or dragging or making compost piles etc you don't (usually) have a computer.

As my whole startup operation is really geared to understanding and improving what I have, it helps to be able to identify animals in the field.

My cows all have a two digit number such as 38, 77, 62 etc on an extra large preprinted duflex eartag. Their calves get a handwritten large tag with the cows number followed by the year. So cow 77 last year had calf 7708 and this year her calf is 7709...etc. The only ones that get changed are the retained heifers which during their yearling summer breeding time vet visit get their 4 digit had written ones removed and their own random but new unused two digit preprinted extra large tag.

The large hand written ones then only need to last 2 years max before the animal is either processed/sold or retained and given her own extra large 2 digit preprinted number and starts her own "family". (Jeanne - a very Matriarcal system!). One of the things I like about Cattlermax is that it lets you change ear tag numbers on an existing animal without losing data/history.

This way I know that I want to really build on the cows #66, 62, 77 genetics and want to cull #39's genetics and calves.... If I want more information on DOB, wts, pedigree, shot record, etc I can go to Cattlemax. Mostly I'm making mental notes when I watch them of which heifers I might want to keep. It gets me thinking in terms of cow families I want to build on. I also take a photo of each animal which is linked to their record in Cattlemax, once as a calf and then as a yearling and maybe as a retained cow.

FWIW, Jim
 

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