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Ear Tags FYI

286editedColored ear tags are commonly used to identify animals on farms. When attending your local county fair or driving by your neighbor’s farm, you may have wondered what is the purpose of these ear tags and how animals receive their tags. Read on!

Ear tags are used by farmers and veterinarians to identify animals as well as to keep accurate and detailed records. Ear tags can be made of plastic or metal, enabling the tags to last the animal’s lifetime. Ear tags are made to be easily seen from a distance.

“A person can gather a lot of information about an animal by seeing a certain color, number, or letter,” explains Dr. Tom Strause, DVM, a veterinarian at the Stateline Veterinary Service in Darien, Wis.

Dr. Strause also notes that veterinarians utilize ear tags when prescribing and administering medications.

“As a veterinarian, I use ear tags for identifying animals on health papers. I also use ear tags to identify which animals I have vaccinated to prevent disease,” he continues.

In addition, veterinarians help animal owners decide how ear tags should be placed and applied. Dr. Strause compares inserting an ear tag on an animal to a person getting their ear pierced.

“It is a very short and quick procedure. Animals typically receive their tags at birth or at a few days of age,” he says.

Besides ear tags, other forms of identification include pictures, drawings, tattoos, and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. Tune into next month’s e-newsletter article for more on RFID tags!

To learn more about ear tags for large animals, contact your local WVMA member veterinarian. Find one online at

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