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The USDA previously announced a proposal to phase out visual only official identification (ID) ear tags for cattle and bison to move towards official radio frequency ID (RFID) ear tags. In October 2019, the USDA put a hold on this proposal and the previously communicated timeline for this transition. Please see our website or USDA’s website for more information.

Please review USDA approved devices:

Cattle and Bison

Includes all animals of the Bos and Bison genus

Animal Identification Number (AIN)

  • AIN ear tags begin with an official country code followed by an additional 12 digits; 15 digits in total. The official U.S. country code is ‘840’.
    • In compliance with federal law, AIN tags must display the U.S. shield if applied to an animal March 11, 2015 or after
    • May be purchased from most ear tag distributors
    • 4-H tags available by contacting your county extension office
  • 15-character tags beginning with the letters ‘USA’ or manufacturer-coded tags beginning with any number between 900 – 998 are only official if applied to the animal prior to March 11, 2015

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National Uniform Ear-tagging System (NUES)

  • NUES ear tags begin with an official state number followed by three letters and then four numbers. The official state number for Minnesota is ’41’.
  • Silver metal NUES tags may be purchased from Ketchum Manufacturing (minimum order 100 tags) by calling 800-222-0460 or National Band & Tag Company (minimum order 100 tags for producers; 1000 tags for veterinarians) by calling 859-261-2035.
  • Silver metal NUES tags may be available from your veterinarian.
  • Orange metal NUES Brucellosis Vaccination tags can be ordered at no cost from the Board (while supplies last) by calling 651-201-6836 or using the online tag order form.
    • Orange brucellosis vaccination tags may only be used by accredited veterinarians and applied to cattle and bison.
  • Plastic NUES tags may be purchased from Leedstone by calling 877-608-3877 or from the Minnesota Dairy Herd Improvement Association by calling 800-827-3442.
  • In compliance with federal law, NUES tags must display the U.S. shield if applied to an animal March 11, 2015 or after.

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American Identification Number

  • In compliance with federal law, these tags are only official if applied to the animal prior to March 11, 2015
  • Combines ‘USA’ with 8 or 9 digits
  • Includes the National Farm Animal Identification and Records (FAIR)
    • Administered by Holstein Association USA, Inc.

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Limited Movement: Breed Registry Tattoos and Tags

Valid only for movement within Minnesota and import from the following states:

  • Iowa
  • Missouri
  • South Dakota

Acceptable if accompanied by documentation listing the breed registration number. Pending registrations are not acceptable.

Limited Movement: USDA-Approved Backtag

Valid only for movement of cull cattle being imported from an out-of-state market to a state/federal approved market.

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Deer and Elk

Official ear tags that are placed in farmed cervidae after January 1, 2018 must adhere to either the National Uniform Ear-tagging System or the Animal Identification Number system.

Animal Identification Number (AIN)

  • AIN ear tags begin with an official country code followed by an additional 12 digits; 15 digits in total. The official U.S. country code is ‘840’.
    • In compliance with federal law, AIN tags must display the U.S. shield if applied to an animal March 11, 2015 or after
    • May be purchased from most ear tag distributors

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National Uniform Ear-tagging System (NUES)

  • NUES ear tags begin with an official state number followed by three letters and then four numbers. The official state number for Minnesota is ’41’.
  • Silver metal NUES tags may be purchased from Ketchum Manufacturing (minimum order 100 tags) by calling 800-222-0460 or National Band & Tag Company (minimum order 100 tags for producers; 1000 tags for veterinarians) by calling 859-261-2035.
  • Silver metal NUES tags may be available from your veterinarian.
  • Plastic NUES tags may be purchased from Leedstone by calling 877-608-3877.
  • In compliance with federal law, metal NUES tags must display the U.S. shield if applied to an animal March 11, 2015 or after.

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Limited Movement

Preprinted tags that include a premises number and unique animal number placed prior to January 1, 2018 are considered valid for movement within Minnesota only.

Horses

Includes all members of the Equidae family

Animal Description

A description including the age, breed, color, sex and distinctive markings when present, such as brands, tattoos, scars or blemishes.

Poultry

Leg and Wing Bands

  • All poultry and ratites at Community Sales and all chickens, turkeys and game birds at Exhibitions, except baby poultry, must be individually identified with a leg or wing band with a number on the band. The band may also include other letters such as names/initials.
  • Young poultry that are too small to band can be exhibited as a group if the Hatchery Permit number or National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) number is written on the cage, box or enclosure.

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Sheep and Goats

Official eartags must display the US shield. Metal serial ear tags are available by calling 1-866-USDA-TAG or by ordering online at this link.

Please be aware, the USDA has discontinued distribution of most plastic ear tags, flock/herd ID tags, plastic and metal ear tag applicators, until further notice.

Please visit the USDA’s Sheep and Goat Identification website for a complete description of vendors and identification options available for purchase.

Sheep or goat producers who fit all of the criteria below are eligible for up to 80 plastic flock/herd ID ear tags at no cost to them.

  1. Have not previously registered with the National Scrapie Eradication program through the Board office.
  2. Have never ordered official ear tags through USDA or the Board office.
  3. Breed sheep or goats.

Flock Identification (ID) Tags

  • Includes the flock ID number beginning with state abbreviation (maximum nine characters, including state abbreviation) along with a unique herd management number (maximum six characters).
  • Available for purchase in plastic or metal.
  • Used for identification of sheep/goats born on the premises associated with the flock/herd ID.

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Sheep/Goat Serial Tags

  • For use at livestock markets or by accredited veterinarians.
  • Begins with state abbreviation; eight characters total, last four or five are numerical.
  • Available in plastic or metal.

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Animal Identification Number (AIN) Tags

    • AIN ear tags begin with an official country code followed by an additional 12 digits; 15 digits in total. The official U.S. country code is ‘840’.
    • May be purchased from most ear tag distributors

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Official Tattoos

For any tattoo to be considered as official identification, it must be legible.

Registered Sheep/Goats

  • Breed registry tattoos that are recorded with a sheep or goat registry association
  • Upon movement, the animal must be accompanied by a copy of the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) listing tattoo and registration numbers. If registration numbers are not listed on the CVI, copies of the registration papers are also required.
  • Copies of the CVI and necessary registration papers (if applicable) must be sent to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health.

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Non-registered Sheep/Goats

  • State-approved tattoos that are recorded with state animal health officials
  • Tattoo must include the state-approved prefix beginning with the state abbreviation and include a unique animal number
  • Upon movement, the animal must be accompanied by either:
    • A Board-issued document certifying that the tattoo prefix is recorded with the Board or,
    • For animal originating outside of Minnesota, a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection which:
      • Certifies that the tattoo prefix is assigned in the National Scrapie Database, and
      • Lists the flock ID number and the complete tattoo number (including the state-assigned prefix and the animal number).

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Call the Board at 651-201-6809 to record a tattoo or to find out if a tattoo is already recorded.

Electronic Implantable Identification

  • EID may only be used in sheep or goats being imported to flocks/herds registered with the Board.
  • The EID number must begin with the prefix 840, unless it was applied to the animal before March 11, 2015.
  • Sheep or goats cannot be imported to a livestock concentration point or be in slaughter channels.
  • Sheep or goats must be accompanied by an electronic reader.
  • Please refer to the USDA’s National Scrapie Eradication Program Standards, beginning on page 55, for complete requirements for the use of EID in sheep or goats.

Swine

Animal Identification Number (AIN)

  • AIN ear tags begin with an official country code followed by an additional 12 digits; 15 digits in total. The official U.S. country code is ‘840’.
    • In compliance with federal law, AIN tags must display the U.S. shield if applied to an animal March 11, 2015 or after
    • May be purchased from most ear tag distributors
  • 15-digit manufacturer-coded tags beginning with any number between 900 – 998 are only official if applied to the animal prior to March 11, 2015

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National Uniform Ear-tagging System (NUES)

  • NUES ear tags begin with an official state number followed by three letters and then four numbers. The official state number for Minnesota is ’41’.
  • Silver metal NUES tags may be purchased from Ketchum Manufacturing (minimum order 100 tags) by calling 800-222-0460 or National Band & Tag Company (minimum order 100 tags for producers; 1000 tags for veterinarians) by calling 859-261-2035.
    • Smaller metal NUES tags beginning with ‘MN’ instead of ’41’ are also available for purchase by accredited veterinarians – call National Band & Tag Company at 859-261-2035.
  • Silver metal NUES tags may be available from your veterinarian.
  • Plastic NUES tags may be purchased from Leedstone by calling 877-608-3877.
  • In compliance with federal law, metal NUES tags must display the U.S. shield if applied to an animal March 11, 2015 or after.

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Premises ID Number (PIN) Tags

  • Identifies a sow or boar to the premises they were kept immediately prior to entering slaughter channels
  • If the tag includes a unique within-herd management number (imprinted by the manufacturer), the tag would also qualify as an official ear tag for interstate movement

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Ear Notching, with Breed Registration

  • Acceptable if accompanied by documentation listing the breed registration number – pending registrations are not acceptable

Slap or Ear Tattoos

  • Acceptable for feeding swine