eartags I recently changed out the lambs’ ear tags, to replace one of their mini lamb tags with a big flock tag for readability. I am really glad I did tagging the way I did this year. Thirty one lambs is just enough that I’m not able to remember all of them, especially the plainly marked ones.

I started with Premier’s tiny size 1 “EasyTag” tags, one in each ear. I placed these usually the day after a lamb was born. Long enough to give him a chance to be up and about and nursing and not be distracted by any tag wound. But early enough that the lambs were still little and easy to handle and their ears were still soft, and supposedly don’t yet have a lot of feeling. Little lambs also heal quickly from wounds. I really found that when they are this young, they almost don’t seem to notice the tags. They object the moment you punch it through, but when you let them go, they go right back to playing and show no signs of discomfort.

On the little tags, one was a green tag to indicate year of birth, with the lamb’s flock prefix and birth order number. The numbers start with 0 to indicate they were born in 2010. This colored flock tag is in the left ear of boys, and the right ear of girls. In the other ear, I placed a gray-colored official scrapie tag, with a matching number. I’ll leave those in the sheep indefinitely.

reahole If the sheep ever lose a scrapie tag, it has to get replaced with a new unique number, so I’d just use one of the surplus ones from the 0-batch I have on hand. And then note the change in my electronic records. If they ever lose their colored flock tag, I’d order an identical replacement (costs $1), so that they always have a tag that matches their pedigree.

Now that the lambs are older, I removed the tiny green flock tags and replaced them with identically numbered and colored size 5 EasyTags. The nice thing about tagging both ears when the lambs are young is that they heal nice holes, which makes switching tags later very easy. You simply cut the old tag out with hoof trimmers or scissors, and insert the new tag in the same, healed-up hole. I double- and triple-checked the tag numbers before inserting, and thankfully, didn’t screw up even once by putting the wrong tag into the wrong sheep! But I came close a couple of times!

It costs an extra $20 for this many lambs, to use interim tiny tags which will be thrown away. But I like the advantages of the nicely healed holes, and the surety that all the lambs are double-tagged right away, so there is little chance of them becoming unidentified. The big size 5 replacement tags are easy to read from quite a distance. On the wethers, I cut off the corner of the tag on both sides. Then I can tell at a glance which lambs are rams, wethers or ewes by the placement of the tag and the notching.