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Need Ear Tags for Cattle? Tag Along with The Original V8 Ear Tag System™

September 29, 2021

The Original V8 Ear Tag System™

When people get interested in breeding Brahmans, ear tags for cattle usually isn’t the first topic that comes up. But truth is, ear tags are a vital and important part of Brahman breeding; they serve as a paperless information system that rapidly delivers key information about one’s livestock. Around 1980, Jim Williams implemented, and eventually perfected, the V8 ear tagging system – a system so easy, clear, and efficient, it has since been adopted by other Brahman ranches around the world.

Before Jim created The Original V8 Ear Tag System, our ear tags for cattle were custom turquoise tags featuring white numbers. We started with the number 1 and then progressed numerically with each animal born. This system didn’t work well because it required us to reference the calving book to get information on a calf. With one master calving book and many ranch employees, the limits of this system were self-evident.

Renowned for his near perfect penmanship, Jim began designing a tag system for calves that would feature, at a glance, all the important information we need. Our ear tagging information system highlights the following:

  • Month of Birth
  • Dam
  • Sire
  • Recip Number
  • Calf Brand Number

It might seem like all this data would make for a crowded ear tag, but everything has its place.

Embryo Calf Tag

Natural Calf Tag

EAR TAGS FOR CATTLE: EMBRYO CALVES

Calves are tagged within a couple of hours of birth. The tag is placed in a calf’s left ear since the calf hood vaccination tattoo or metal tag is required to go in the right ear.

This example illustrates how we organize the data on a tag.

Front of Ear Tags for Embryo Calves Using The Original V8 Ear Tag System

On the front side of the tag, from top to bottom, you will find:

  1. Top narrow area: the numeric birth month (1-12)
  2. Next: the donor sire of the calf
  3. Followed by: the donor dam of the calf. (the largest numbers on the tag.)
  4. Bottom: the recip mother’s number

Back of Ear Tags for Embryo Calves Using The Original V8 Ear Tag System

On the backside of the tag, you will find:

  1. Bottom half: the eventual private herd number (PH number) that will be assigned to the calf when it is branded.
380/6 Brahman Bull Photo

EAR TAGS FOR CATTLE: NATURAL CALVES

Calves are tagged within a couple of hours of birth. The tag is placed in a calf’s left ear. This example illustrates how we organize the data on a tag. 

Front of Ear Tags for Natural Calves Using The Original V8 Ear Tag System

On the front side of the tag, from top to bottom, you will find:

1.    Top narrow area: the numeric birth month (1-12)

2.    Next: the dam of the calf. (The largest numbers on the tag.)

3.    Bottom: the sire of the calf

Back of Ear Tags for Natural Calves Using The Original V8 Ear Tag System

On the backside of the tag, you will find:

1.    Bottom half: the eventual private herd number (PH number) that will be assigned to the calf when it is branded.

380/6 Brahman Bull Photo

EAR TAGS FOR CATTLE: RECIPS

Recip cows can have ear tags in both ears, depending on their status (pregnant or open). The left ear holds the cow’s unique ID tag; the right ear features the tag for the embryo she is carrying. The two ear tags allow us to quickly identify cows who should be pregnant. A recip being followed by a pack of bull calves is a telltale sign. By identifying her we able to quickly determine if she is a recip that has miscarried (two tags) or a recip that is open (one tag).

Recip Identification Tags for Embryo Calves Using The Original V8 Ear Tag System

V8 Ranch recip tags simply feature an identification number. Since each member of the Williams family owns recips, the tags are further organized by tag color for easy identification. Jim Williams and his family use blue tags; Payton and her family use pink tags; and animals from Sloan/V8 feature white tags.  Recips are coded using the initials of the initials of the owner, plus a number. For example, the smallest recip herd belongs to the youngest V8 family member, Knox Neumayr, grandson of Jim Williams. The first recip owned by Knox is K1, followed by K2, K3, and so on….

Recip tags can also be color-coded by month for quick identification, for example, orange tags for January and green tags for March.

Sometimes we buy a pregnant recip who arrives at the ranch wearing an ID number that doesn’t match the V8 number system, like G3983 from TransOva, for example. In that case, the recip keeps her existing ID number until she calves and then receives her next embryo. At the point of implantation of her next embryo, we renumber and retag the cow to bring her ID in alignment with The Original V8 Ear Tag System.

Pregnant recip cow with the two-tag V8 Ear Tag System. The tag on the left is the information about the embryo calf she is carrying. The tag on the right is her individual ID tag.

EAR TAGS FOR CATTLE: RECIP COW EMBRYOS

As with calf tags, we use recip cow embryo tags to register the information we need about the embryo calf being carried. Our recip cow embryo ear tagging system highlights the following: 

  • Sire of the embryo being carried
  • Dam of the embryo being carried
  • Estimated calving date
  • Recip identification number

Front of Ear Tags for Recip Cow Embryos Using The Original V8 Ear Tag System

As an extra layer of organization, these tags are color coded by month based on the ECD of the calf. Although the layout of this tag is like the embryo calf tag, there a couple of key differences:

On the front side of the tag, from top to bottom, you will find:

  1. Top: the donor sire of the calf
  2. Followed by: the donor dam of the calf. (the largest numbers on the tag.)
  3. Bottom: the ECD (estimated calving date) 

Back of Ear Tags for Recip Cow Embryos Using The Original V8 Ear Tag System

On the backside of the tag, you will find:

  1. Bottom half: the recip identification number. This serves as a backup. If the recip cow loses the tag with her identification number on it, we still know who she is.
380/6 Brahman Bull Photo

Since Jim Williams developed this system in the early 1980’s, countless other ranches across the world have adopted his system. Today, The Original V8 Ear Tag System is used in many countries across a variety of breeds. As a bonus, repeat visitors to the ranch often know our system. As we ride the ranch, they can answer their own questions about the calves just by reading their tags.

Curious about the brand of ear tags we use and the pens we use to write with? We don’t mind sharing that information, either. If you have any further questions about our using our system of ear tags for cattle, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Happy tagging from your friends at V8!  

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