Article Text

Welfare implications of sheep ear tags
  1. D. S. Edwards, BSc, MSc1 and
  2. A. M. Johnston, BVM&S, DVetMed, MRCVS1
  1. 1 Department of Farm Animal and Equine Medicine and Surgery, The Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Hawkshead Lane, North Mymms, Hatfield AL9 7TA


The damaging effects of ear tags used to identify sheep were studied by examining the ears of sheep after slaughter in three different abattoirs and the ears of sheep on a farm. In total, 1040 ears with tags were examined. There were six types of ear tag: metal 'Ketchum' style loop tags; two-piece rigid plastic tags; 'AlIflex' style flexible plastic tags with a male and female part; golf tee-shaped plastic ear tags; one-piece rigid plastic loop tags; and one-piece flexible plastic tags with a flap. The metal loop tags and plastic loop tags caused the most lesions, and the majority of the severe lesions. Ear tags placed near to the tip of the ear appeared to cause more damage. Some of the Ketchum style metal tags and two-piece rigid plastic tags appeared to be relatively new, as if recently fitted. These tags were more often associated with ear lesions, particularly moderate or severe lesions. The AlIflex style flexible plastic tags caused the fewest problems, and the golf tee-shaped plastic tags also caused significantly fewer problems than the other tags.

Statistics from

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.