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How to Tattoo Your Goats for Easy Identification

No matter whether you're keeping goats because they contribute to a sustainable lifestyle or as a 4-H project for your kids, you'll need to mark them for easy identification. Tattooing your goats is relatively inexpensive. Basic equipment for tattooing costs less than $100 and only a few dollars a year after that.

Microchipping is also an option. Tattooing, although slightly more painful for the goat, doesn’t come with many medical risks; microchipping, on the other hand, has been known to cause tumors.

If you plan to register goats, you need to check with the registry you will use to find out what method they allow and what tattoo sequence (letters and numbers) you need to use.

Supplies for tattooing include gloves to protect your hands from ink, a pair of tattoo tongs, special tattoo ink, and letters and numbers to use in the tongs. You can use black ink on light-colored goats, but green shows up better on dark-skinned goats.

  1. Secure the sequence of letters and numbers you will use in the tattoo tongs.

    Squeeze them on a piece of paper to ensure that they are in the right order.

  2. Put on your gloves.

  3. Clean the inside of the goat’s ear or tail web (the loose, hairless area under the tail on either side of the anus) with alcohol, making sure that you have the correct ear for the tattoo you are using.

    LaMancha goats’ ears are too small for tattooing, so you need to use the tail web.

  4. When the ear is dry, rub tattoo ink on the inside of the ear or on the tail web.

  5. Hold the ear out and position the tattoo tongs over the inside, being careful to avoid the veins to minimize bleeding.

    To tattoo the tail web, position the tongs with the prongs facing the hairless side of the tail.

  6. Puncture the ear or tail web firmly with the tattoo tongs one time, then release.

    The goat will try to pull away, so make sure to hold securely.

  7. Apply more tattoo ink and rub it in with your finger or a toothbrush to ensure that it fills the puncture.

  8. Change the tattoo digits to the sequence you will use for the second ear and repeat Steps 3 through 7.

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