Ear notching is commonly practiced in identifying goats. It has the advantage of being visible from a distance allowing identification without the necessity of catching the animal and can accommodate numbers up to 9999. An ear notching pliers are used to put “V”-shaped notches in the edges of the ear and a hole punch is used to punch holes in the middle of the ear, if necessary. The animal is restrained and notches and holes may be treated with iodine. As this process results in bleeding, the notching pliers should be disinfected between animals to prevent transmission of any blood-borne diseases. The notching system used is that begun in the Angora industry and adapted for meat goats. However, some producers may use alternate numbering system. Generally, notches on the goat’s left ear mean: 10 (top), 1 (bottom), 100 (end); and 1,000 (center hole). On the goat’s right ear, notch values are: 30 (top), 3 (bottom), 300 (end); and 3,000 (center hole). Thus, a goat with the number 135 would look as follows: 1 notch on end of left ear (100); 1 notch on top of right ear (30), 2 notches on bottom of left ear (2); 1 notch on bottom of right ear (3) with a total value equaling 135.


  1. C. Marroson
    2887 days ago
    March 28, 2010 at 2:48 am

    Is there a reason why people wouldn’t just use numbered tags in the goats’ ears? Like they do with cattle. Will the other goats tear them off or something?

    • The Kebun
      2886 days ago
      March 29, 2010 at 6:27 pm

      Yes, goats do chew sometimes each other’s tags off. In addition it is much easier to read from a distance instead of going after them to get a close up view of the tag numbers.

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