The best cattle ear tags should be easy to apply, easy to read from a distance, the numbering shouldn’t fade (whether preprinted or marked yourself), and perhaps most importantly actually stay in the ear. This is easier said than done, but here are four ear tags for cattle that won’t disappoint.

Best Blank Cattle Ear Tags

Z Tags Blank Ear Tags

Z Tags Blank Ear Tags Z Tags are arguably the best ear tags available to cattle producers.

New: $34.98
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Z Tags is a name that has long been synonymous with ear tagging. If you need a set of blank tags and would prefer to do the marking yourself, Z Tags Blank Ear Tags is the best choice.

They are designed to not snag and pull out or break off when caught on wire or brush, feature a self-piercing tag tip to ensure a clean, precise incision to prevent infection and promote faster healing, and are large enough to be seen from a distance.

M.Z.A Blank Ear Tags

M.Z.A Blank Ear Tags These M.Z.A. Blank Ear Tags deliver excellent value for money with each costing less than $0.30

New: $21.98 ($0.22 / Count)
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Designed to be as easy to install as possible, these M.Z.A Blank Ear Tags offer excellent value for money with each tag costing less than $0.30.

You get 100 ear tags per pack, which are made of durable plastic and will withstand severe weather conditions. Once you have marked the tags, they won’t fade easily either.

Best Numbered Cattle Ear Tags

U&T Numbered Cattle Ear Tags

U&T Numbered Ear Tags UT&T Numbered Tags are soft, flexible, and made from high-quality plastic.

New: $22.79
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Made from high-quality plastic, these U&T Numbered Cattle Ear Tags are built to last and are soft and flexible enough to stay in the ear when caught.

The tags are numbered from one to a hundred. Laser printing was used to print the numbers, so they won’t fade.

M.Z.A Numbered Cattle Ear Tags

M.Z.A Numbered Ear Tags The same build quality and value as M.Z.A blank tags but numbered.

New: $25.99
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These Numbered Ear Tags from M.Z.A deliver the same build quality and value for money as the company’s blank ear tags.

The only difference is that they are numbered from 1-100, which won’t fade, even in extreme weather conditions.

What to Consider When Buying Ear Tags for Cattle

  • Size and Shape

Cattle ear tags are available in a variety of shapes and sizes, ranging from 2″ H x 5/8″ W on the small side all the way up to 4 3/4″ H x 3″ W. The shape of tags can range from square or rectangular to an almost triangular shape.

Considering that there are so many options to choose from, it can be hard to discern which type will work best for your needs. It’s actually pretty easy, though. Smaller tags should be used on calves, and larger tags should be used on fully-grown, mature cattle.

The only thing to keep in mind is that the smaller the tag, the harder it is to read from a distance, which is why some producers prefer to use larger-sized tags on small cattle.

  • Color

Selecting a color isn’t purely a stylistic decision. When choosing the color of ear tags, it’s important to consider how well the tag will be contrasted with the text, as this can affect readability.

You also want to consider how you plan on separating and organizing your herd. Using a specific color to mark a particular year or to differentiate between bull calves and heifer calves are just a couple of the different methods farmers and ranchers use for categorization.

  • Numbered Tags vs. Blank Tags

Cattle ear tags are available either as numbered or blank. Numbered ear tags are, you guessed it, numbered for you, while blank ear tags require you to use cattle ear tag marking pens to create and write your own numbering system.

Which one you choose is down to preference. Some producers prefer a simple numbering system and have faith that the preprinted numbered ear tags they purchase won’t fade. Others want to number the tags themselves.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which ear do you tag cattle in?

You can tag cattle in one ear – either on the left ear or right ear – or on both depending on the information you want to record and quickly identify. The decision is up to you. The best location to place the ear tag is in the middle third of the ear

What do you write on cattle ear tags?

What you put on a cattle ear tag is up to you. There are no rules set in stone that you must follow. Typically, the gender, age, weight, when a cow last calved, and number of calves are commonly recorded.

Are there any disadvantages to ear tagging?

The disadvantages to tagging your cattle are few and far between.

The main and most common issue is that the ear tag can come out if placed too far on the outside of the ear. If the tag is placed too far on the inside, though, it can cause pinching or necrosis, which is the death of tissue. An applicator pen that is in good condition is also required.