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How to Remove Ear Tags

By Mason Howard | Updated September 26, 2017

Items you will need

  • Ear tag removal tool

  • Antiseptic

  • Animal tattoo outfit

  • Antiseptic tattoo ink

Livestock often have their ears tagged as a way to distinguish the animals. The numbers on the tag are registered and can help to identify stolen or lost animals. Ear tags may need to be removed if there is an infection, if the animal is on the way to slaughter, if it is an unofficial tag that needs to be switched, or if the tag is weighing too heavily on the animal's ear. Ear tags are removed with an ear tag removal tool, which has a plastic hook lined with a narrow cutting blade.

Slip the hook between the male side of the tag and the animal’s ear. Place the hook so that the blade encircles the stem of the tag.

Hold the handle and gently pull on the hook while moving it up and down in a twisting motion. The blade will slice through the stem. Do not tug too hard as this can tear the animal’s ear.

Apply antiseptic to the hole in the ear to clean it and prevent infection.

Tattoo the tag number to the inside of the animal’s ear so that the animal can still be identified without an ear tag. Use a handheld animal tattoo outfit and antiseptic ink.


Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.