Farming Cheats: Mark your animals

It’s something you don’t have to think about too much, because if you own livestock – be it cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, horses or ostriches – you must by law mark or brand them.

The Act on the Identification of Animals (Act 6 of 2002) is very clear on this. One of the main reasons is to be able to identify your animals if they are stolen.

So at what age should animals be marked? All cattle should receive their identification marks before the age of six months. They may be tattooed at one month or maybe branded at six months of age. The branding process must be completed by the time their first pair of incisors appear – also known as the two-tooth stage.

Small stock, pigs and ostriches must be tattooed at one month of age. Ostriches can be branded at six months. Horses may be tattooed at six months or branded at 12 months.

As for the position of the markings, cattle must be tattooed in the left or right ear, whereas branding can be on any properly visible part of the body, excluding the neck.

As indicated above, you can brand cattle anywhere outside the rectangle. The first owner may put his brand on the left hind leg, the second owner may brand the left shoulder, the third owner the right hind leg and the fourth owner the right shoulder.

When it comes to sheep, goats and pigs, the first owner may use the left ear for tattooing and the second owner the right ear. Pigs may also receive marks on the left or right side of the neck or shoulder area by using a hogslapper.

Ostriches under the age of six months may be tattooed under the left wing, whereas birds older than six months may be branded on the thighs. The first owner may apply the branding on the outside of the left thigh and the second owner on the outside of the right thigh.

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