Scottish project aims to solve ear tag issues

The aim is to find out what causes ear tags to fall out
calendar icon 26 September 2022
clock icon 2 minute read

Researchers at Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) are investigating what makes applying ear tags difficult and what causes ear tags to fall out. The new project aims to help farmers and crofters improve retention rates and avoid penalties because of missing ear tags in sheep and cattle.

According to a recent press release, the researchers are looking to speak to a range of farmers and crofters, including both those who have issues with ear tag losses and those who don’t, to find out how to avoid these problems.

The team, led by Kate Lamont and Sam Beechener, is looking for answers to a variety of questions about people’s experiences with ear tags, including whether they find locating the tag in the ear a problem, if there is a breed of cattle or sheep that seems more prone to ear tag loss, or whether a particular type of fence, field boundary or even type of tag causes more problems.

They are also interested in finding out if farmers and crofters are unclear about when and how many animals need to be tagged, or if they think ear tagging is an unwelcome labour/cost expense which isn’t a priority.

“There are lots of ways for farmers and crofters to have their say. It can be via a quick chat on the phone, a text or an email, or by sending photos, completing an online survey, or even a site visit where they can point out what the problem is and where on the farm or croft it occurs," said Beechener.

Funded by the Scottish Government, the project aims to establish how big a problem ear tag loss is for smaller enterprises, what the causes are, and importantly, what could be done to help. Data gathered will be used to provide information about how to prevent losses and avoid penalties arising from missing ear tags.

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