According to the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) all calves born on a holding must be tagged within twenty days of birth. DAFM says keepers are obliged to order their annual requirement of ear tags directly from a pre-approved tag supplier. They do this by completing a tag order card from an approved tag supplier and returning it with the appropriate fee. Tagging calves is a straight forward job but can be dangerous when a cow is present. To start off the procedure separate the cow from the calf. During tagging, a calf might become stressed. If the cow senses her calf is upset her instincts may kick in to protect her young. This can result in cows attacking a farmer inside a calving bay. When removing the cow from the calving pen take care and be alert to the dangers. Most cows will be fine but there is always one that might not react well to being separated. Make sure to close the gates properly once the cow is removed.

When applying ear tags always place the female part on the inside (part with the button) and the male part (part with piercing mechanism) on the outside of the ear. A tissue tag applicator, such as the yellow one pictured from Allflex, was used in this case to apply the tissue sample tag. Cormac Tagging are also approved to supply cattle tags (see page 49). This tag is used to take a tissue sample from the calf’s ear to test for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD). The tags pictured here were ordered last year. That is why they have “IE” present which of course represents Ireland. It is still fine to use these tags. However all new tags being ordered from here on will have a number to represent the country of an animal’s origin. The number 372 represents Ireland. The next number is the herd identifier and that is followed by the animal’s unique identification number.