Tattoos…where’s yours?!

By Dawn Caldwell

Try to Google “cattle tattoos.”  Wow!  There is some less than attractive body art out there!  No, my farmwife body is NOT a canvas for any permanent creativity.  I am usually pretty adventurous, but when it comes to putting something on my skin that won’t come off and more importantly, won’t look nearly as amazing in 10 or 20 years, I just can’t do it.  I remember when I was 16, one of my classmates drew a gorgeous sword with a rose stem wrapped around it on my arm while we were bored in school.  My parents were getting our house sided a the time and one of the workers putting the siding on was just sure I had ditched school and got a tattoo.  HAHA!  I guarantee, if I had, it certainly would not have been where my parents could see it! 

OK – in regards to cattle management, we really do tattoo part of our cattle. defines tattoo as:


1.the act or practice of marking the skin with indelible patterns, pictures, legends, etc., by making punctures in it and inserting pigments.

2.a pattern, picture, legend, etc., so made.
The only cattle on our outfit that get tattoos are the registered Red Angus cattle.  They must have a permanent form of identification for breed certification.  Kaydee and Emmet’s herd prefix is HCGN (short for High Caliber Genetics).  That prefix always goes in the left ear of the animal.  The right ear will hold the animal’s number (remember that explanation of ear tags ?? Numbers are important!) along with a letter which corresponds to the year of birth.  This year’s letter is Y.  Here is a picture of tattooing one of the calves.

This calf’s tattoos won’t win any contests and certainly won’t catch anyone’s attention as it walks by….kind of plain and boring!

Tattoos will be checked at shows to verify that the animal entered is the animal being presented.  Tattoos can also be used if ear tags are lost.  Pedigrees are very important in registered cattle, so verifying animal identity is equally as important.


About Dawn Caldwell

With a life full of family, farming and a full-time job off the farm, I have an incredible respect for farmers and what they contribute to the world. My husband, Matt, and I, along with our two children run a diversified farm in Edgar, Nebraska, which was passed down from Matt’s grandfather. About half of our family farm is used to raise crops, and half is pasture to raise cattle. Growing up on a diversified farm with corn, wheat, soybeans and hay, I have always been involved in the day-to-day duties on the farm. My family is very close knit and busy, and truly believe that, “farming is good for family life!”
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