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Author Topic: Ear tagging  (Read 400 times)


  • Joined Jul 2020
Ear tagging
« on: August 12, 2020, 03:02:58 pm »
Hi everyone,

I've got 6 adult goats that need ear tagging. They've never been done before and I've never tagged goats before. I've done lots of research and am relatively confident I know where and how to do it.

However, I've read infection is a lot more common when tagging adults than kids. I've brought some agricultural lube to put on the tags and will disinfect the applicator before using it but if anyone else has any tips on preventing infection I'd be very grateful. I should also say I am planning to do it in the winter when fly season is over so hopefully this would help too.

I also wondered if its worth speaking to the vet to see if they could prescribe me any antibiotics to have on hand incase infection does occur. I don't know what the laws are in the UK. Does the animal have to already have an infection before it can be prescribed antibiotics? Or could I just phone and ask for some 'Engemycin Spray' for example incase I might need it.

Any advice would be massively appreciated!

Thank you


  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Ear tagging
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2020, 09:34:38 pm »
Are you based in the UK? 

If so, excuse my asking but I'm trying to get some of the basics to give you the best advice!

How long have you had the goats, did you breed them or buy them? 
If you bred them, have you got your flock number assigned?
If you bought them, do you have movement paperwork that shows their assigned tag numbers (and do you know which is which)?

Depending on where they were bred will depend on whether you use your own flock number on normal tags or EITHER red tags on your flock number OR the breeders tag numbers on replacement tags.

In terms of preparation, clean the whole ear inside and out and ensure the tags and pliers are clean. 

Ideally doing it when there aren't many flies about will help, a quick spray with iodine or purple spray if you can get near the animal after tagging will also help reduce the risk of infection.

If you're on good terms with the vet and you have things like a management plan in place, it's not uncommon to have a basic antibiotic prescribed "just in case it's needed".  You'll need to record the aquisition, usage and disposal on your holding medicines register.

Hope this helps and I'm sure others will chip in.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.


  • Joined Feb 2017
  • Carmarthenshire
Re: Ear tagging
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2020, 06:48:23 am »
I think you may of overthought it  :) which just shows how much you care about your animals!

My goats lost ear tags all of the time until I gave up trying to tag them, I always had tags allocated to them, but they were kept in a box. I think because the goats nature it to route amongst the trees they are a hazard and can be ripped out and tear the ears, so some antibiotic spray in your medicine box would be a good idea.

I'm not a fan of the loop tags with goats, but if you do use them make sure you cut them once on, so that they are less likely to catch.

I would just get on and do it, beware that goats can be very noisy, especially for the second tag when they know what to expect!


  • Joined Jul 2020
Re: Ear tagging
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2020, 02:25:52 pm »
Scarlet. Dragon thank you for your reply! To answer your questions yes I am based in the UK and all the goats were born on my property and have a flock number assigned.  In terms of cleaning what would you recommend using, I had thought about using iodine but saw that a lot of people online were saying to make sure its completely dry before tagging.

I haven't got a management plan in place with my vet (i'm hoping to sort one out soon). Does this mean they can't prescribe me anything?

bj_cardiff I think you are right about me overthinking it! I've read countless horror stories online now about goat tags getting terribly infected or ripping their ears to pieces so am a little apprehensive top say the least! It's one of the things I hate about farming, it's horrible for the animal and they don't benefit but unfortunately something that has to be done. Thanks for the advice about the loop tags I've heard other people mention they aren't great as well so will definitely avoid those. I was thinking of maybe going for the 'Goat Small Flexo Flag' from Dalton Tags instead.


  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Ear tagging
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2020, 10:22:23 pm »
OK, if they were born on your property it's a lot easier in terms of using your own numbers rather than trying to work out if they need to be red-tagged or not.

Alcohol wipes are a good option for cleaning the area before tagging.

Absence of a management plan doesn't necessarily mean they won't prescribe for you; it depends on the vet.  It's just that these days a lot of them will push to have a good understanding of your plans and how they fit into them.  There more you can share with them to demonstrate that you'll use whatever they prescribe responsibly and that you have the drugs control register in hand, the more likely they are to work with you.

In terms of tags, every type has issues when it comes to goats!  The loops can catch and/or restrict the ear's natural growth if not put in the right place when they're young.  If you cut the loops, it can leave sharp edges that scratch the ears; The split tags, if not placed exactly right can cause head shaking if the inside tag is annoying the ear.  The button tags tend to be heavy and likely to catch on anything the goat puts it's head through!  Even the mini flags can rub if they are 'too big' for the ears (although of all the types I have had here, they have been the least trouble and are the ones I order/have replaced others with). 

I've one that I've been told by the vets not to tag again as she appears to be allergic to the tags.  I had tagged her 3 times after getting her (having had to remove the tags after they'd been in 4-6 months each time due to abscesses); I knew she had been tagged at least twice before she came to me, as her number had been changed by the breeder from her original tag (I got her at about 14 months).  She'd had 4 different types of tags as we tried to find something that worked for her but failed.  She's now identichipped and has a pastern tag.  I also have an ear tag on a halter for her so that if she needs a clear visual for an inspection she doesn't have to suffer for it and it can all be cross referenced to the identichip.  Another of mine only has 1 ear-tag having shredded her other ear before she arrived here; again a pastern tag is used to provide the second identifier.

Good luck whatever you decide to do!  Not all goats have problems; I have a couple who haven't had problems at all so far.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.



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