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Oregon ranchers urged to uniquely identify cattle

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Using brands and other tools now to mark ownership of cattle can help sort things out later when those animals go to market:

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The question of “who does this cow belong to” can be answered more easily if cattle owners take the proper steps over the next several months to identify their animals. Rodger Huffman of the Oregon Department of Agriculture says brands are the ultimate in determining ownership, but there are other tools that can help:

HUFFMAN:  “Yeah, this time of year because the weather and, I guess, the environment the cattle are in, it’s hard to see brands and sometimes they are impaired with mud and other things. So it’s real important producers have a strong backup identification system on their animals.”  :17

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That backup system includes earmarks, tags, and flesh markings. All can be used consistently with cattle under one ownership. But that system should be unique from a neighbor’s:

HUFFMAN:  “There’s a higher incidence of mistakes when people are bringing animals in because they maybe haven’t checked with what the neighbors are doing and some of their systems are too similar. So they are missing some of those things and presenting neighbors’ cattle for sale.”  :18

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Proper use of tags, earmarks, or flesh marking is added insurance that an animal will return to its proper home later this year. Huffman’s message is timed with the production of a new calf crop this winter and the preparation of adult cattle before they are turned out for grazing in a few months. Attention to detail now will help avoid problems later. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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HUFFMAN says there is nothing quite as effective as the old fashioned cattle brand and the work of ODA brand inspectors to help stolen or lost livestock get back to their rightful owners. But there are other ways producers can help themselves:

“A brand is certainly the ultimate way to determine ownership. But all of the other things they could do– the earmarks, the tags– all of those things are probably equally important as far as the initial sorting of ownership.”  :17

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HUFFMAN’s advice is timed to help cattle producers take steps now to avoid identification problems later in the year:

“Perfect time of year is in the springtime when they are working the calves. That gets your initial marks. But prior to turnout, that’s another time to go back and make sure that everything is uniform and consistent, and it’s also different than the neighbors.”  :15

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