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Official identification of cattle
Introduction
The purpose of this memorandum is to establish Veterinary Services (VS) policy for identification of cattle and the recording of identification on official documents.  An officially approved method of identification should always be used for official documents.

Official metal eartags
1. Identification Eartag--This tag is silverin color and has a nine-character, alpha-numeric identification number. The nine characters consist of a two-number State code followed by threeletters and fournumbers (e.g., 53ADU1234). This tag is identified on the underside by a shielded "US" and "VS"; State abbreviations are acceptable in lieu of the VS if tags are being purchased by the State.
 
2. Calfhood Vaccination Eartag--This is orangein color and has a nine-character, alpha-numeric identification number. The nine characters consist of a two-number State code followed by three letters in which the letter series begins with a "V" followed by four numbers (e.g., 53VJC1234). States which require more serially numbered official vaccination eartags than the number of combinations available in the "V" series shall use "T" (53TJC1234) or "S" (53SJC123) series. This tag is identified on the underside by a shielded "US" and "VAC"; State abbreviations are acceptable in lieu of the shielded "US" if tags being purchased by the State.
 
3. Reactor Eartag--This tag is red; has no more than seven numbers; and is identified on the underside with "US," the State abbreviation, and the "REACTOR"; or a metal tag bearing a serial number designated by the State animal health official for identifying reactors may be used.

Official plastic eartags
Plastic Identification and Vaccination Eartags--The use of a plastic tag as an official eartag is permitted by the new definition of an official eartag. The tag must be approved by VS, be tamper resistant, and conform to the nine-character, alpha-numeric National Uniform Eartagging System (two numbers, three letters, followed by four numbers [e.g. 53VJC1234]). VS will not purchasethese plastic eartags.

Other plastic eartags
Supplemental Plastic Eartag--This eartag is white or yellow and has a seven-character, alpha-numeric identification number printed in black. The seven characters consist of a two-number State code followed by one letter and four numbers (e.g., 53A1234). VS will purchase these plastic eartags.
 
APPLICATION
Supplemental plastic eartags may be used as supplemental identification in quarantined herds that require repeat testing for brucellosis or tuberculosis and may be placed in either ear. When these eartags are applied to the right ear, they should not destroy or cover the vaccination tattoo. The male portion of the tag should pierce the ear from the back. This makes the number visible from the front of the animal.

Official eartag application
Official metal eartags shall be applied to the upper edge of the ear with the point of the tag piercing the top side of the ear. This makes the number on the eartag visible when looking down at the ear. When applying eartags to calves, allow for potential growth of the ear. Tag applicators should be properly adjusted and good technique should be used to prevent unnecessary pressure or premature loss.
 
1. Identification eartags, metal, are always applied to the animal´s right earexcept as allowed in section under use of official eartags.
 
2. Calfhood vaccination eartags, metal, are always applied to the animal´s right ear.
 
3. Reactor eartags are always applied to the animal´s left ear.
 
Official plastic identification or vaccination eartags are always applied to the animal´s right ear; however, they should not destroy or cover the vaccination tattoo. The male portion of the tag should pierce the ear from the back. This makes the number visible from the front of the animal.

Use of official eartags
A. Each animal shall be identified by only oneofficial eartag except:
 
1. Where maintaining identify is important, the Area Veterinarian in Charge may allow a second official identification eartag to be applied to the left ear, as in:
a. Export shipments.
b. Quarantined herds.
c. Field trials, experiments, or diseases surveys.
 
2. In the case of brucellosis and tuberculosis reactors or other restricted animals condemned to slaughter, a reactor eartag shall be placed in the left ear.
 
B. Animals carrying one or more official eartags shall not be retagged with another official eartag except as allowed in paragraph A above. When more than one official eartag is found in an animal, none shall be removed.
 
C. All alpha-numeric characters of every official eartag carried by the animal shall be listed as the animal´s identification number on all official documents except as provided in paragraph  B below.

Quarantined herd eartags
USE OF OTHER PLASTIC EARTAGS IN QUARANTINED HERDS
 
A. VS Memorandum No. 578.6, Supplement II, authorizes the use of a plastic eartag with seven-characteralpha-numeric identification number such as 53A1234 (see III.C.) for supplemental identification of cattle identified with official metal eartags. This tag is notto be used in lieu of the official metal eartag but for the purpose of providing a more easily read form of identification in quarantined herds. It is not to be used with an official plastic identification eartag.
 
B. When this supplemental plastic eartag is first applied, or when a replacement supplemental plastic eartag is required, its number must be correlated with the official metal eartag, and both tag numbers must be listed on the first official record. Thereafter, only the plastic eartag number needs to be listed on the test record.

Notification
The Area Veterinarian in Charge shall furnish copies of this memorandum to:
1. All State and Federal field personnel.
2. All accredited food animal veterinary practitioners.