Tattoo
The Clear Creek Farms Way

Before we bought our first goats, we talked to several goat farmers in our area to find out what we were getting into. We thought we were well prepared before going into the goat business. Then we discovered there were a lot of things no one bothered to mention to us. For example, no one told us about mastitis or bottle feeding. Nor were we told anything at all about wormers and worming. But the absolute worse thing we weren’t told about – well, hoof trimming is up pretty high on the scale – is tattooing. To us that is the messiest, most disagreeable chore of all.
Not that it’s a hard job. It was much more difficult before we got the grooming stand – when one of us had to physically hold the baby goat while the other tortured it. Still this is one of those necessary evils we’re always so relieved when we’re done.
Indeed, when we got our first goats, we had no idea such a thing as an ear tattoo was needed or necessary. That is until we bought our first goat that was subject to registration. Then the Government came out with their Scrapie rules and regulations.
There are several theories of when the best time to tattoo is – and we’ve probably tired them all. Some people don’t tattoo until they sell the goat and it is getting ready to leave the place; that way if they decide not to sell the goat as a registered animal, there are no hard feelings down the line when someone else buys the goat and wants registration information based on the herd prefix and number. Some people don’t tattoo until they get their registration papers back from the Association; if the Association makes a mistake in the tattoo (or if they put down the wrong numbers on the application), the problem is easily corrected – just tattoo what the papers say. (Of course, when you submit your application you are affirming all information on the application is correct. If you have not tattooed but put down numbers, you are, in effect, lying.) Some tattoo babies when they are a few days old, but we feel they are already under enough stress just trying to stay alive. We have found what works best for us is to tattoo when the mood strikes us but before a goat is sold.
Unfortunately, this was the weekend we were in the mood to tattoo (or felt guilty because we had not already tattooed our spring babies and it’s already August).
The first step in the tattoo process is catching the kid. When each of our kids is born, we enter all pertinent data into the computer. We ear tag immediately after birth, so it’s a simple process of associating the data with the ear tag (assuming, of course, the kid hasn’t already figured out a way to remove the tag). So, once the kid is caught, we verify what letter/number sequence goes in the left ear. The right ear is easy; it’s our herd prefix.
We quickly learned we needed two tattoo kits – one that only holds our herd prefix and the other to change with each goat.
The Associations determine the letter based on the year of the kid’s birth. I.e., the letter “R” was for 2003 while the letter “S” is for 2004 kids, the letter “T” is for 2005, the letter "V" for 2006 and the letter "W" will identify kids born during 2007. The next step is to place the letters/numbers into the tattoo implement.

The year letter is inserted in the implement followed by numbers. We number our kids in the order they were born. Thus, the first kid born in 2004 was S1. Once the letter and numbers are in place it is time to start.

NOTE: This is for Boer goats; dairy goats have different letters.

 
Cleaning the ear
Once the goat is caught and the proper id is determined, we cleanse the ear. Some have recommended using 409. We have found the alcohol wipes work beautifully.
 
Applying tattoo ink
After the ear is clean, we apply the ink to each of the letters in the implement. Tattoo ink comes in a variety of containers; we have found the green roll-on works great. (We have also used the black paste. It works, but we ended up with more black on us than the goat.) I make sure that each of the prongs on the letters has a good dose of tattoo ink on it. We use a tooth brush for this.

We used to apply the ink directly on the ear; but after observing the individual prong inking method, we decided this was better.
 
Tattooing the ear
It is now time to torture the goats. At least the poor kid is convinced we’re trying to kill it. The tattoo implement is situated over the just-applied ink, and gentle pressure imprints tiny holes in the goat’s ear. Too much pressure (or really thin ears) tend to bleed compounding the mess.
 
Applying baking soda to the tattoo
As soon as the ear has been tattooed, baking soda is rubbed into all the holes. The baking soda tends to make the tattoo stand out – making readability easier over time. The baking soda also helps to stop any bleeding.
While we have the kids on the grooming stand, we give them a visual physical. We check their teats and record our findings. We also check eye-lids and gums to make sure they don’t have a parasite overload. We also check feet and trim as needed. We normally do this before we tattoo. The kids are not interesting in being good after they are tattooed in the second ear.
In two or three days, all the green has worn off our fingers.

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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168


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