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How to tattoo a goat in the tail

Tattoos are an important means of positive identification for your goat. Goats that you intend to register, show, or have appraised must be tattooed. Also, tattoos are required in certain health programs such as the Volunteer Scrapie Certification Program.

Most goats are tattooed in the ear. I raise LaMancha goats, which have very tiny ears, so I tattoo in the tail web. I actually find it easier to tattoo in the tail, then in the ear. When I raised Nubians (long eared goats), I tattooed them in the tails as well!

The American Dairy Goat Association prefers you to use a certain letter to designate the year of birth of the goat as the left tattoo (ear or tail). In the right ear/tail, you use a unique herd tattoo. My herd tattoo is "LMB", so "LMB" goes on the goat's right side of their tail web. On the left will go the letter of birth, for example "P" for 2001 and the number of the kid. So the first kid of the year would get "P1" in their left tail web. The second kid would be "P2" and so on. Each goat must have a different tattoo.

Before you begin tattooing, gather all your equipment together:
  • Tattoo pliers
    • I have two sets. One for the herd (right) tattoo, that I never have to change, and one for the left tattoo, which gets changed for each goat.
    • For tattooing in the tail, you will want to choose the .300 Small Animal/Pet Tattoo pliers and digits. If you are tattooing in the tail, do not get the pliers with the ear release, this just makes them more difficult to use.
  • Tattoo ink/paste
    • I prefer the green tattoo paste.
  • The correct digit for the tattoo
    • I store the digits in a chunk of Styrofoam. This keeps them orderly and easy to find which letter or number you need.
  • An old toothbrush
  • A piece of paper, with the correct tattoos written on it.
    • Test the tattoos on the paper every time before tattooing the goat. This not only makes sure you have the correct digits, but also that they are in the right order.
  • Alcohol
  • Paper Towels
  • Gloves
  • Cat (optional)


How to tattoo:

Put your goat in a stand and give them some grain. Have a partner to:

  • Hold up the tail.
  • Restrain the goat if necessary, when you apply the tattoo pliers.

Have all your supplies ready. Make sure the tattoo digits are clean and sterile. I soak mine in alcohol before and after each use. You could also soak them in bleach water.

Don't forget to wash the digits, pliers and toothbrush after you're done.

Clean area well with alcohol.

Clean area well with alcohol.



Apply tattoo ink/paste to area.

Apply tattoo ink/paste to area.
We recommend using the green tattoo paste.



Grab the side tail hair and pull to "flatten" the area

Have one person hold up the tail.
Grab the side tail hair and pull to "flatten" the area
and make it easier to get the pliers positioned.


Squeeze the pliers firmly.

Squeeze the pliers firmly.



Rub in the ink/paste with an old toothbrush

Rub in the ink/paste with an old toothbrush


Wipe away excess past

Wipe away excess paste


Repeating the process on the left side...



Apply tattoo ink/paste to area

Apply tattoo ink/paste to area.

Grab the side tail hair and pull to "flatten" the area and make it easier to get the pliers positioned.

Grab the side tail hair and pull to "flatten" the area and make it easier to get the pliers positioned.


Squeeze the pliers firmly.

Squeeze the pliers firmly.

All done.

All done.
You now have a green butted goat.
The excess ink will gradually wear away.



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