Marking of Agricultural Animals

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Marking of Agricultural Animals


the labeling of agricultural animals (including caged fur-bearing animals) with a code or number to facilitate taking inventory of livestock, to distinguish one animal from another, and to designate ownership.

There are several methods for marking agricultural animals. Ear tattoos are applied with pincers that pierce the skin on the inside (or, for hogs, the outside) of the ear and inject into the puncture a fast-drying, indelible dye (a thick alcohol infusion of carbon black, indigo, or similar substances). Another method of marking is ear notching according to a code by which each dent signifies a certain number. Because the keys to decipher the codes vary on different farms and in different countries, making it difficult to discern the numbers, an explanation of the marking is provided in the pedigree documents.

Ear tagging is another widely used method, consisting of attaching to the ears small metal or plastic tags or buttons with numbers stamped on them. Another method of marking is branding, burning numbers or symbols (brands) with a very hot branding iron on the animal’s croup or shoulder or with a special electric device on the horn. Sometimes cold branding with a cold metal branding iron (to 79°C or to 196°C) is used. A method of marking used for poultry and sometimes for sheep is banding, which consists of placing metal or plastic (sometimes colored) numbered bands on an animal’s legs. The animal’s number is entered into an inventory book.

The disadvantage of most methods of agricultural marking is that the marks are not permanent and, therefore, it is necessary to reapply the inventory numbers.


Borisenko, E. Ia. Razvedenie sel’skokhoziaistvennykh zhivotnykh, 4th ed. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.