Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tattoo You

Nope, this entry isn`t about that album released by the Rolling Stones back in 1981, nor is it about my Wolverine tattoo. (Yes I do have Wolverine permanently inked into my skin. I am THAT much of a comic geek.)

Actually this here post is about getting ready for our county fair which is about two weeks away. Now as many of you know who have children who show at your local fairs things have to be done beforehand. This includes (At least in our county) paperwork that has to be sent in to our local extension office, forms mailed to our goat barn supervisor stating which goats and what classes are coming to fair this year, a visit from a large animal vet to ensure all who are going are healthy and lastly but not leastly 4-H books must be completed before Round-up which kicks off fair for our 4-H kids.

Makes ya tired just reading it don`t it? In all fairness it`s not as bad as it sounds, at least we goatherders don`t find it so. The goats on the other hand, now that`s a different story! This year’s entrants are already complaining loudly about the necessary accoutrements and falderal that`s being heaped upon them.

Through trial and error (Many errors to be honest) we`ve come up with a routine that seems to work well for us. I thought I`d show you some of the before fair goings-on just because it makes the goats so contrary and therefore makes me snicker some. Their faces sometimes just speak volumes!

What we do here on the hillside farm is tattoo our goats before we do anything else. Since we`re proud members of A.D.G.A. ( The American Dairy Goat Association) all our does are registered, as are our two bucks Anakin and Auron who by the way are still behind their fence. *Snickers at contrary goat male faces outside window.* I just love the word contrary as you can tell.

Anydoodles back on track here. *Sips coffee and mind clears*

Tattooing is our preferred means of identification. Some people use ear tags but after a rather nasty incident with one of our Nubian doeling`s ripping a tag from her lovely long ear we swore we would ear tag no more forever. (One of many new goat-owner errors I mentioned earlier.)

Our registration papers from A.D.G.A. have each goats herd ID and their individual ID along with their names and their genealogy back to grand sires and dams. Our herd tattoo is BVSL and must be placed in the goat’s right ear. Their personal ID numbers must go in their left ear. This year’s letter is A and must be followed by the goat`s number. So for example Calliope is A9-Freya is A2-Persephone is A1 and so on.

‘But what about those LaMancha`s? They have no ears!’ I can hear you all asking.

Very true and good job on the mental telepathy my blogging buddies! The LaMancha`s are tattooed on their tail-webs. YEOUCH! Talk about a rather embarrassing thing to have done to your tail-web! A friend of ours does our LaMancha tattooing for us since she raises them and has the much smaller tattoo letters and numbers required. I`ll spare you and Freya the mortification of posting pictures of her tail-web tattooing and just show ear tattooing.

So here we go into the wonderful world of yodeling goatherders and goat tattoos!

This is our handy tattoo tote, filled with all the assorted goodies we`ll need. Tattoo pliers, green ink, toothbrushes, rubbing alcohol, paper towels, digits and letters and rubber gloves. Why I carry the rubber gloves I have not a clue since neither Mister nor I will wear them. Go figure right?

Next we have lovely young Calliope who will be helping us show how we tattoo. First we get the inside of the ear as clean as we can with rubbing alcohol. All my goats dislike having their ears handled which adds to the enjoyment of the whole tattooing job by leaps and goaty bounds.*Rolls eyes*

Then we use one of the old toothbrushes to rub the tattoo ink inside her ear well.

One last check to ensure that the letters/numbers are not in the tattoo pliers upside down. The county vet who checks each goat when they arrive at the fairgrounds frowns upon improperly placed tattoos so we like to double-check just for our own peace of mind. Looks like we`re good to go!

Since the actual tattooing is a two-person job with lots of blatting, kicking and wrenching I`ll have to skip any shots of it occurring. I was too busy trying to restrain Calliope to make sure she didn`t jerk her head violently and rip the tattoo gun free. That would tear her inner ear and we don`t want to subject her to something that painful on top of the tattooing itself. It does hurt I won`t sugarcoat it, but it`s a short-lived pain. As soon as you release them it`s pretty much over with.

On we go to the left ear! Clean, ink, repeat.

It is a very messy job as you can see. Thankfully the tattoo ink wears off much faster than Blue-Cote but for a couple days Mister and I have way more than a green thumb!

Now as you`ll see in this last picture there is a reason we tattoo first, aside from letting the ink soak into the tiny tattoo holes, then bathe followed by their show clippings.

Green really is her color don`t you think? After the deed had been done Calliope got some extra hugs and smooches which seemed to make her feel special and much better. Next comes the bathing and clipping which I`ll post up shortly and is always a good time!

Nothing like soapy goats and yodeling goatherders to look forward to seeing is there?


Sharon said...

Green definitely is her color! You have to do that every year or it a once in a lifetime thing? At least it doesn't hurt after you are done, I hope. Calliope seems like she behaved rather well, considering.....

Feral Female said...

It`s a once-a-lifetime thing Sharon. They don`t seem to show any pain afterwards. Maybe it`s like getting your ears pierced for we humans.

small farm girl said...

I always wondered how they did that. Thanks for the info.

~Tonia said...

Something I havent had to do yet... I have all the stuff just havent worked up the nerve.
I agree about the ear tagging! I wouldnt put one in a goat's ear for nothing. It just doesnt work!
Poor Lamanchas.. The shame and embarassment having their tail tattooed..

Leigh said...

Your post couldn't have came at a better time! I was just looking at Jefferslivestock.com at tattoo guns. I am hoping to breed our doe soon and I'm trying to buy supplies as we are fairly new to the goat world. Our goats are tattooed but of course we will have to tat our babes. What kind of gun do you recommend? Do they come with letters and numbers or do you have to buy them separate? I'm not sure the questions to ask but I logged out of my Jeffers account completely confused as to what I should buy. Any advice?

houndstooth said...

Calliope was a pretty darned good sport about everything! I hope she got some extra sweet feed for letting you put her pictures on the blog. I'm glad we didn't have to tattoo the sheep, though! Tail removal was tough enough!

from my front porch... said...

I loved this post! Really interesting :)
Anything with animals with info I can learn from is tops!

Until the late 80's Arabians were
"Freeze-Marked" Like branding,but much LESS painful, it was put under the mane. In the 90's, we began doing DNA typing only. I think the ear tattooing for large intertwined horse farm herds could be an interesting concept!

Thanks for teaching me something new!!!!
xo, misha

Brenda said...

Great post and photos! How long will she be wearing the extra green ink? I hope it's all gone by show time! I have to tattoo some LaMancha tail webs.....not looking forward to that one!

Feral Female said...

I`m glad the info was interesting. Most of the green ink has worn off on Calliope`s face already so after her pre-show bath she should be spiffy clean!

Don`t blame you for not looking forward to the tail-web tattooing Brenda!

Leigh I`ll try to answer your questions the best I can. We use Stone tattoo pliers and have been very pleased with thier quality over the years. I believe our digits are 5/16th but it`s been awhile since we purchased the pliers. I think you have to buy the letters and digits seperately but I`m not sure to be honest. As I said it`s been quite a long time since we bought ours.

If you maintain the pliers and letter/digits by keeping them as clean as possible they should last quite awhile. We clean ours after every tattooing with rubbing alcohol and then hot, soapy water. Allow them to dry before storage and you`ll be good to go when next years kids roll around!

Hope that helped some!

Sandra said...

I think it hurts us more than it hurts them; the crying wears on my nerves and I'm often tempted to give up but never do. It has to be done and, like you say, as soon as they are released, the scamper away and the dirty deed is forgotten.
Thanks for visiting me at Misha's; please know you're welcome to visit Thistle Cove Farm as well.

Sallie said...

Great blog! I'm so glad you found me!

P.S. I love tattoos. :)

phylliso said...

I posted on this blog,but it is not here,I must`ve forgot to do something.Just wanted to say,I have never heard of tattooing,that is just awesome.When we got our wethers,they were already tagged in the ears.I always worried about that.Hendrix has his tore now,I`ll have to ask the vet about it.Interesting to find these things out.phylliso

phylliso said...

Hendrix`s tag is torn,not his ear!just wanted to clarify that,phylliso

Leigh said...

Thanks for the advice. I will see what Jefferslivestock has to offer with size 5/16th. I may also check Hoegger. Thanks a bunch! :)

Deere Driver said...

Having done this just once, and I really was helped along, I appreciate the tutorial.

What fair are you heading to? Maybe I'll see you.