Types of BEEF Identification

The way I do things down in Tennessee is way different that my friend in WY or CA or even FL.         When talking with other producers about the way they ID I realized how little I actually knew about the different methods.  I have found FIVE different types of ID for cattle. Branding (hot/freeze), brisket tags, ear tags, EID, and ear notches.

  •      Branding: Branding is used more commonly on larger farms and ranches where the cattle are out on their own on wide open ranges.  There are two types of brands: freeze and hot.  Freeze branding is basically an iron formed into a specific combination of letters, symbols, and numbers to ID cattle easily.  A hot brand is a brand that is gotten hot over a fire but it is the same type of iron used in freeze branding.  This type of ID is regulated by the government by having a person at sale barns to inspect brands to decrease the rustling of cattle.
    freeze brand (courtesy of GOOGLE)

    Hot Iron brand (courtesy of GOOGLE)
  •     Brisket tags:  I just heard about these from a friend who ranches in Wyoming.  I do not know about them other than what she said. My take away is they aren't as common but the ranchers that do use them, use them because they want a form of tag ID but ear tags get lost and ear notches aren't a viable option when running a large herd.
    Brisket tag (courtesy of GOOGLE)
  •        Ear Tags:  a simple tag that is personalized with the animals specific information where it be a number or letter with maybe their mom/dad information.  These are more common in small herds because you have to get close to the animal to read them.
    Look at the heifers right ear
  •    EID:  Electronic Identification: These are most common in feedlots or the show cattle industry because they have to be scanned which also entails getting very close to the animal.  An EID tag is a small white/yellow tag commonly issued by the USDA (united states department of agriculture) placed in the ear.  It says on the tag "unlawful to remove."  This tag is also very regulated by the government.
    A farmer using the EID reader to read the tag (courtesy of GOOGLE)
  •     Ear Notches: Ear notches are used more commonly to determine age for example if you keep replacement heifers and want to be able to distinguish the 2016 group from the 2015 group you ear notch them different.  It is limited because the ear is only so big and there are only so many combinations of ear notches.
    Eat notches (courtesy of GOOGLE)

There are so many ways to ID calves and each farmer/rancher uses a different method because of where the cattle reside and how many cattle they have.  We use ear tags on our farm in South East Tennessee because our cows are close to home.


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