Why all the cut tags?

Posted November 15, 2023

By Rachael Oliver, RAAA Commercial Marketing Specialist

The other day while my father and I were processing a group of new calves that we will background in our feedyard, I thought to myself as I cut out every visual tag placed in the ears of those calves, we were processing. Why do we hold so much value in a visual tag when it is simply cut out at the first stop in that calf’s life cycle?

We use visual tags, also commonly called dangle tags, to pair calves with their mothers. Yes, that is extremely important, and there is a place for visual tags in the ranching community. But I ask again, why do we hold so much value in a visual tag? As a producer I want to do what is most economical for my operation, and I want to implement practices that add value to my operation and cattle. So, if I use visual tags to help identify which cow is paired to which calf and then know at the next segment in the beef industry that tag is going to be cut out, would I spend more money on the quality of that tag? Or would I buy the cheapest tag that is simple and easy to use?

The million-dollar question asked to the marketing team during the summer video sale run and even now during the fall run, was from buyers and feedyard operators asking us why Red Angus has not embraced the use of EID tags. The feedback we receive from those industry leaders is they are less likely to bid on a calf even if it is enrolled in FCCP wearing a visual tag, but if they have an EID paired with the visual tag they will bid on those calves. The idea is they do not want to purchase a calf to then turn around and place an EID in its ear. That is more time and money for that buyer, hence the lower bid producers can see.

When purchasing, cattle buyers already know what branded beef program in which they will place those calves. But if a calf comes in to the feedyard sporting a visual tag and it is cut out, the information tied to that tag is immediately erased. Now if the visual tag is lucky enough to make all the way to the packer, the readers the packers use can not scan a visual tag. These scanners determine what branded beef box that load of cattle will go in, and are only designed to scan EIDs. Once again, without an EID, you are left with zero carcass data and zero data on anything from when that calf left the ranch.

So again I raise the question, if the people purchasing Red Angus calves continually ask us to do away with the visual tags and embrace EID usage, is it not worth it to make a subtle change in our operation that will add an extra bid or even a couple extra bids?