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How To Identify Your Goats

Why goat identification is necessary?

It is necessary for record keeping, registration, and proof of ownership. The distinctive marking helps in identifying goats merely by sight. Identification becomes more useful in case of goat breeds with identical coloring such as Saanens, Toggenburgs, Oberhaslis, and Boers. Registered goats have permanent identification.

  • Methods of identification

There are various methods of identification. The most common is imprinting a tattoo on most of the breeds. It is permanent but difficult to read. Registered animals can be identified with a registration tattoo as a substitute of the ear tag. The tattoo is either the same as the herd ID allocated by the USDA or the goat is accompanied by a copy of the registration certificate with the current owner mentioned in it.

  • Ear tags

These are generally used on meat goats, but there is a chance to be lost, especially if the goat is in brushy areas. Owners sometimes use these ear tags with built-in radio frequency identification (RFID). It is mandated by the FDA that these RFID chips can’t be inserted into the body of food animals as these chips can move to other body location and mighty be risky for humans. In Europe, such chips are first encapsulated in ceramic bolus, then inserted in the rumen. However, this method is not approved in the US. An electronic reader is needed to read these RFID chips, but if a reader is not available these tags have numbers which can be read visually as well.

  • Scrapie eradication program

Scrapie tag is placed in the ear. At present, these tags are distributed for free by the national eradication program; they must stay inside the ear. The tag consists of a number of digits. Few dairy goat owners put tags on plastic chains around a goat’s neck. The reason for using a plastic chain is that if unfortunately the chain gets stuck, it will break rather than choking the goat. As a part of this program, the producers are requested to get premises identification number. Though this is at present voluntary, in future, as part of the National Animal Identification System it will be a mandatory thing to have a premises identification number. Few owners use ear notches for goat identification.

There are various methods for temporary goat identification. These consist of the use of spray chalk, colored spray (like purple wound spray), and wax marking crayons. Paint branding can also be used a little— in this a special paint to the animals’ body this by using a small numbered branding-iron set [Goat ID]

  • Record Keeping

It is important to keep accurate inventory records.  The owner should not buy goats of age that may be used for breeding or goats over 18 months of age for any reason except they have official ID. Before any buying or selling, they need to be officially identified. The owner should purchase tags produced by approved tag companies only. The standards are laid down by the USDA.

If an official tag is lost, another official tag should be put back ASAP and record that new number. Record the previous tag number or the name and address of the herd of origin if required. The record should be kept for 5 years after the animal dies or is no longer owned by the same owner.

How to retain ear tag and safety from Infection/tissue reaction

  • Kids lesser than 6 months should be tagged. 
  • Clean the tag, when ears are dry. 
  • If not required then avoid tagging in humid summer months or in wet conditions.

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