Cattle producers have identified their cattle to indicate ownership for as long as there have been domestic cattle. And some of those methods, like ear notching and branding, are still widely used today. But have cattle producers adopted newer, more technology-driven identification methods?
To that end, we surveyed BEEF readers recently to get a feel for your use of and opinions on animal identification. Here’s a look at what you had to say.
When asked what form of ranch-wide animal identification readers use, the majority, at 70%, use dangle ear tags. While that wasn’t surprising, what was surprising (at least to us) is that 47.2% use a hot iron brand. Given the general acceptance of branding as a permanent indication of ownership, our hypothesis was that branding would be more common.
Beyond that, 14.6% use freeze branding and 5.4% don’t use any form of identification at all. Another 18.1% say “other, “with most responses indicating that ear notches and EID or RFID tags are used (Figure 1). Totals add up to more than 100% because of multiple responses.
As far as why readers use ranchwide animal identification, 83.3% say for management and 70.5% say to indicate ownership. Theft deterrence was important for 51.6%; 26.6% indicate they do it for marketing; 19.1% to comply with verification or value-added programs; and 15.9% to comply with government cattle health programs (Figure 2). Totals add up to more than 100% because of multiple responses.