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Deacon Dog

Ear tagging lambs

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We tag our lambs at the same time we dock tails. Usually around a couple weeks of age. We tag them right before they are let out of the individual lambing pens... that way our records are kept straight with the tag number of the mother along with the tag number of her babies.

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I tatoo at one day to two weeks, and then do the tags at weaning. I haven't tried the new 2X's yet (I had hundreds of the old tags to run through, even tagging the same sheep two or three times a year). I'm hoping they will stay in better. I've heard they do and the two rams I have with them seem to be doing well.

 

The tatoos are awesome - no more "orphan" lambs after a storm of tag losses (always seems to happen in groups). You can't id from a distance but that's the only drawback and the gov't tags take care of that.

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Becca,

 

I just threw out the ones that didn't work and ordered more, specifying the 2X tags.

 

I generally use a Snapp tag (one piece, small, costs 12 cents) numbered on both sides for lamb tags. The only ones that get a 2X tag are the keepers, or ones that need it for interstate movement.

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Bill, I'm 3/4 Scot, I can't bear to throw away even "free" stuff. :rolleyes:

 

My last bunch got ruined though so one of these days I do intend to order more. I'm not planning to move more than a couple lambs off until spring so I've got plenty of time to procrastinate.

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By the way, Tony, we're on with Jack for early spring 2006, probably March. When are you lambing this next season?

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Well, I guess the Scottish blood in me is thin enough to allow me to throw away free junk. If it wasn't free, I can't throw it out, and of course, if it's not junk I can't throw it out.

 

It also helped that the old ones had an outdated premise number on them. Our ID was changed when I moved from New Hamsphire to Mass.

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I have used the 2x tags for a couple years now. I haven't had one fall out. I tag them when the lambs are quite young 3 to 5 days old.

 

For those of you who have used them, were do you put it in the ear? I put it where it shows in the catalog (which is on the top of the ear) and have been left with a bunch of limp ears. I wonder if a person should put it lower on the ear and as close as possible to the head. Not that limp ears are a bid deal just wondering. Anyone have any suggestions?

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Hi there Mandy!

I also tag with 2x anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 month. I insert between the two lower veins close to the head and they seem to stay in fine and all the ears are plenty perky!....well except for the one tag I got dyslexic on, inserted in the upper ear and the tag keeps pointing upward (ie upside down 2x tag....defies gravity). Every time I see that lamb go by I remind myself to track her down again and do it right.

 

Of course, you know me.....I'm hardly an expert....you're MY sheep consultant!

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I have always thought that the placement shown in the catalog was utterly wrong, and I figured that was why they showed it on a goat.

 

I place them on the lower inside quadrant of the ear, between the two veins. I can't say I haven't lost any, but I've been very happy with the retention. I've probably installed 400 to 500 of them, and I think I could count the losses on one hand.

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I would have never though to tag lambs less than a month old. Sure will save a lot of work marking them.

 

Bill, if I follow your description the tag hangs back over the ear?

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I tag mine at birth exactly as you describe, Bill. This year, however, I've lost probably 1/10 of the tags. The only thing I can think of is that we put in woven wire fencing last year. Any suggestions on how to avoid this problem (my ewes are also loosing tags - a bigger problem)? I obviously need some backup ID.

 

I used to double tag - copper at birth and then plastic later - am thinking I'll need to go back to this method. The major problems with the copper was that they sometimes migrated (turned) and became infected, were difficult to read (especially when covered with crud), and I found them more difficult to place than the small plastic tags. I now use the little "snap" tags that wrap around the edge of the ear (Premier). These replaced plastic tags that were "2-part" (i.e., were open at the end).

 

Rebecca, how labor intensive is tatooing?

 

Tony, if I'm understanding Bill correctly, the tag hangs down at the bottom of the ear. I've found this method to be highly visible, easy (to find landmarks) and, until this year, durable.

 

Kim

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Tatooing involves twice the passes on the same ear so it's a little harder to hold a larger lamb and do it. If you do it at birth or soon after it's no big deal. Plus you have to set up each number as you go, but that's when I write the number down (or my capable and lovely assistant) so that pause reminds me to do that.

 

I was afraid it would be easy to screw up, but it turns out the only thing I tend to mess up is putting the numbers in backwards. Ie, I marked a few lambs "XX4" in stead of "4XX" this year.

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Hi Tony,

 

Kim's got it right.

 

I just looked at the photos on Premier's web site, and they all look wrong to me. SO there's a place to see how I don't do them. If that helps.

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The two rams I bought from Bill last year, and a ewe with a tag in the same position in the foreground.

 

SheepTags.jpg

 

What the tatoo looks like after two years - tatooed one day old. It's actually easier to read than it seems from the picture - the fact that is was dusk and the topology of the inside ear made it hard to get a good shot. It reads "454A"

 

EarTatoo.jpg

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Thanks Rebecca for going above and beyond on this issue. I have to say even in the light the tattoo is difficult to read. Perhaps ear notching is the best answer. What do the rest of you think?

 

I was just out looking at the lambs and most are ok but a handful of them are really droopy. I will have to look into other options for next year.

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you kind of have to know what you're looking for on the tatoos. But it greatly helps reduce screwups. Since it's a backup system, easy readability isn't a high priority. If I were sorting sheep to sell or breed, I'd take an alcohol swipe out and clean the ears - that helps.

 

I use notches for culls. I have a small flock so ewes get one strike. If they screw up one year, they get notched. Then next time, it's easy to see who the screwups were last time around as they lamb, and say, OK, you're outta here, if they're notched. I'll notch them again in the lambing pen. Then when I sell culls I can sort them easily.

 

The notcher is super easy to use but ick, lotsa blood if you get crazy with it and hit a larger capillary or heaven forbid, one of the bigger blood vessels! I'm thinking of putting a notch in a different place for sheep the shearer says have superior fleeces. I'm pretty clueless about grading fleece, so it would help to make sure those sheep don't get thrown in as "school sheep."

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Ear notching is great for identifying animals as part of a class: culls, twins, singles, triplets, males, females, sired by X or Y, year of birth, etc. But it doesn't really give you enough options for individual ID on more than a few dozen animals.

 

People are always pointing out how ear notches can't fall out, but they can be acquired, particularly if you sheep are in brushy territory, graze around barbed wire or encounter certain types of young dogs.

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Guest herbertholmes

There is a way to use notches to number up to 1,000, But, higher numbers take up to 5 on each ear. That system is the best for a permanent, visible number. It is used by the american angora breeders, their office is in Rocksprings Texas, and I do not know if they have a web site. Their numbers are so low they are not very active. You should look at the # system though, because it will soon become lost due too lack of use. HH

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I went looking for this info and found one place that uses ear notches to ID bloodstock percentages. Thought that was need for those who are breeding stock producers.

 

I get all kinds of wacky ear damage here (including injuries from over-enthusiastic lgds), but none look to me quite like the mark that notcher makes.

 

There's a picture of what Herbert was talking about, um, I think (numbers aren't my strong suit), here: http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/ansc442/Se...ntification.htm

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The only reason I asked about notiching is there is a lady near me who raise Suffolk uses this system. I have used ear notches to identify easily from a distance who a father is of a ewe but not for numbering. I agree that notching for permanent identification is tricky to learn but it is more permanent than the tags and could be read without handling the sheep like a tattoo.

 

I appreciate all this food for thought.

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