Ear Tags - Potential Danger

Ear tags are often a popular form of identification for livestock. However there are potential dangers of using this form of identification as well as drawbacks. We do not, nor have we ever, used ear tags for identification purposes. Our goats are tattooed on the underside of the ear for permanent identification. If you plan to use ear tags, keep it clean. Before inserting the tag into the ear, use alcohol to clean the tag and both sides of the ear to prevent infection. Place ear tags in the lower part of the ear, not up high where the ear is thick and will take longer to heal. Make sure the tag is between the cords in the ear.

Ear tags often fall out or are torn out leaving and unsigtly hole or tear in the ear and they are not considered permanent identification because they can be removed and replaced. We do have several goats that were purchased from another breeder and they had ear tags when we bought them. Recently on of our tagged bucks was butting heads with another buck and I noticed some slight bleeding around the ear tag. This buck was vaccinated earlier with CD/T and the bleeding was minimal so we figured it would heal up and be fine in a few days. And within a few days, it looked fine and there was no cause for alarm. However approximately two weeks after this incident, I noticed that this buck was not himself. He was withdrawn from the herd and made very little effort to eat and did a lot of laying around. I didn't notice anything wrong with him other than the change in his behavior. About two days after the change in his behavior I noticed a tennis ball size lump around the ear tag that was filled with infection. We immediately removed the ear tag which was very difficult to do on a grown buck that was in severe pain. After the ear tag was removed we squeezed out as much of the infection as we could, cleaned the ear with peroxide and sprayed it with iodine. We then gave him Pen G for the infection. If this would have been left unattended, this buck would have died from the infection. After treatment, the next day, the buck was eating and butting heads and acting like his usual self again. It took approximately 2 weeks to get rid o the infection from his ear. Be aware of the dangers and potential risks of using ear tags especially on goats because they are more active and mischeivious than most other livestock.