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Posted: 01/23/2024
Sheep, goat, swine and dairy cattle wearing Allflex tags

Step-by-Step Guide: Ordering Custom Allflex Tags for Livestock Identification

You know PBS Animal Health has you covered for products to support all the head, shoulders, knees and "toes" of livestock. But today, we're talking ears! Specifically, Allflex ear tags. These animal identification tools are foundational for effective and efficient management, and Allflex is a good choice for any operation as it's been a trusted visual and electronic ID solution leader for more than six decades. Today we'll explain the step-by-step process for ordering your Allflex tags (even custom orders!) well ahead of the upcoming calving season.

The Benefits of Cattle Identification

No matter how big or small your operation, it’s easy to find the benefits in livestock and cattle identification. Think of a single-digit litter of puppies which typically arrives one litter at a time. It’s certainly possible to name these few tiny creatures for their unique coloring or markings. They’re far more containable in a tiny pen with the mother, and many leave for forever homes after three months of age. Calves, on the hand, are part of a growing herd – many of which remain at their birth site (with the calves that came before them). As many producers welcome several calves in a given season and care for them across a more spread out facility, cattle ear tags simply become a necessity both to be able to tell the animals apart, and to administer age-appropriate care as needed. But there are more tangible benefits to cow tags, too:

  1. Record keeping. Animal identification is key for maintaining several types of records, including inventory lists, pregnancy and calving history, health and medication history, as well as performance records. This information can make decisions about selling and/or culling more objective as numbers speak for themselves.
  2. Following the law. Identification and records are required by certain city, state, and/or federal laws (if the animal is being raised for food).
  3. Public health. Tags help trace the origin of animals that have been sold to food-producing farms and other agriculture businesses. This ability to trace animals backward and forward allows producers to control and potentially eradicate diseases.
While there are a few different marking options to identify animals, the American Veterinary Medical Association recommends that a high priority be placed on alternatives to hot-iron branding for identification. Cattle ear tags are an ideal alternative.

Setting up a Cattle Numbering System

Before you can order cattle ear tags, create a numbering system to organize your herd. To keep things simple, aim for a system with less than 5 digits (4 is considered the industry standard) and don’t duplicate ID numbers for 10 years. This number will stay with the animal for its entire lifespan, so unique numbers matter. Colors can also be used to identify age, gender, or other information, as long as your record-keeping system allows for them.

Organizations like Beef Improvement Federation use international letter codes for years of birth, with “M” as the code for 2024. So if you’re planning to tag calves for this upcoming season, you might use M001, M002, and so on for first and second calves born this year. That’s a very straightforward consecutive system of numbering based on the year of birth. Some producers also consider systems that incorporate the dam – either by the dam’s tag number with a marking pen above the calf’s tag number, or with a number that’s built into the calf number. For example, if a dam is 205J (it was calf #205 born in the “J” year 2021), its calf might be M205 or 20524 (dam tag number plus birth year).

Selecting the Right Ear Tag for Your Animals

The first step in ordering tags is finding the right type/size for each animal. Start your search by checking out a few of these popular Allflex visual tag options by species, with both numbered and blank options to choose from.

Allflex EID tags

Traceable EIDs

Visual ear tags are extremely popular identification methods, but many of our customers prefer adding a secondary measure using electronic identification (EID) buttons. While visual tags are readable from afar, these much smaller tags on the same ears are only noticeable when working close up with an animal. Inside each EID is a unique 15-digit number and a transponder that electronically sends the ID info to the operation’s data system when the animal passes through scanning checkpoints. It means management can quickly scan multiple animals with a hand wand/reader for faster processing than writing down individual animal numbers as they enter a chute, for example. These special tags require your federal premise ID number and some additional information, so please call us at 800-321-0235 to place an order.

Allflex custom tag diagram

What Information Do You Need for Ordering Livestock Tags?

Once you've picked out the tag you want, there are several details you'll need to iron out and have ready when you call the order into our team. For example, do you want each tag to be the same color? Or will heifers and bulls use separate colors? How many of each color do you need? Will you stick with one tag per animal or opt for the double tag with one in each ear?

At PBS Animal Health, we are also equipped to process special order tags. Though these are non-refundable and cost a bit more than the standard tags, these are wise for growing herds with custom numbers. Several of our customers also customize tags with a line of text that might include farm name and/or animal name. We've also been known to create tags with your operation logo. Have something in mind? Ask us what's possible before you place your order!

Call PBS Animal Health to Order Tags

You've found the right product for your animals, and determined your appropriate numbering system, color, size, etc. The final step to order your Allflex ear tags is to call PBS Animal Health at +1 (800) 321-0235. You can also email your order, including those with custom content, to

Please note, current turnaround time for delivery on custom tags is 3 weeks. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s important to have your order in well before the calving season. Also, plan to keep a batch of blank tags to replace any that get lost (you’ll also need a marking pen to put animal ID numbers on these tags). Don't forget to shop for any applicator devices you need to be completely ready to go when the tags arrive. This Allflex UTT3S model is a Universal Total Tagger that is Smooth, Simple & Safe, or try this ATag Applicator for one-piece tags.

Order Now from Your Dedicated Tag Team at PBS Animal Health

Livestock tagging is a critical component to the success of your operation. It keeps animals identified in clear, organized ways and simplifies management procedures. Please reach out to our dedicated Tag Team experts with any questions and concerns you have while planning your upcoming tag orders. We can also help with custom order quotes. Contact us today at +1 (800) 321-0235 or to get started!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article, and all other articles by pbsanimalhealth is for informational purposes only. This article may have been prepared from multiple sources at the time it was written and is not intended to be used as a sole source of information in making any purchase or specific product use decision. We recommend you always consult with your attending veterinarian to properly diagnose any health-related condition before initiating any prevention or treatment program. Always read and follow each product’s current label instructions and Warnings before use.

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