Cattle Tags

Cattle Tags

Producers use cattle tags to assist with processes like administering insecticides to their herds and managing the whereabouts and information of individual animals. There are three main types of tags, each designed to serve a different purpose: insecticidal tags (lice and fly tags), visual identification (VID) tags, and electronic NLIS tags. Shop popular products like Y-Tex fly tags, Z Tags, and Allflex cattle ear tags today at Specialist Sales, or get in touch for expert advice to help you find the best fly tags for cattle.

Why use cattle tags? 

Cattle tags are a critical component of managing livestock, as they help producers quickly identify key details including which animals are theirs, their year of birth, and their breeding background. Depending on the type of tag in use, they can also be used to track other important data like location. As well as ensuring you can visually identify your livestock on-farm, you might choose to use specialty insecticidal cattle tags to administer slow-release insecticide that helps control pests like buffalo flies and lice. 


Cattle tags offer a new, less invasive and more humane alternative to branding, and considering their additional benefits, this practice is also more cost-effective on the whole. 

What kind of cattle tags should you be using? 

There are a few types of cattle tags that are popularly used in the management of livestock, some for visual identification purposes and others to provide insecticidal benefits to the animal. 

If you are simply looking to monitor the behaviours of your animals and are prepared to do this manually through tracking individual animal numbers, simple visual identification tags (VID) may be your best fit. However, for those with lots of livestock or complex tracking needs, electronic NLIS EID (National Livestock Identification System Electronic Identification) tags will provide a more streamlined option. Finally, insecticidal tags are an efficient way to administer insecticides to your herd, however do not provide any visual management benefits.

Not just for cows, ear tags also come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit a broad range of animals, including goats and sheep. 


How do insecticidal ear tags work?

Insecticidal products are some of the most commonly used ear tags for cattle as they offer an easy, streamlined way to administer insecticides. In the Australian context, they are predominantly used to control buffalo fly, an infestation found in northern Australia and parts of New South Wales during the warmer months. Each insecticidal cattle tag will contain a special formulation of active ingredients designed to provide coverage against buffalo fly for up to 12 to 16 weeks. By controlling buffalo fly infestations using this method, producers can mitigate the dangers of this pest, which include weight loss and productivity decline.

When using insecticidal ear tags, it is critical to rotate your chosen active ingredient and consequently, product, annually to avoid building resistance against buffalo fly within your herd. 


What are visual management cattle tags?

Visual management (VID) cattle tags are essential tools used by cattle producers to facilitate ownership, identification, and monitoring of animals within a herd. They enable quick visual identification of each specific animal, which subsequently means producers can track their health records, breeding history, vaccination status, illness history, and other critical information. Visual tags also aid in herd management tasks like grouping, sorting, and culling livestock, which streamlines operations and minimises the stress felt by handlers. When producers can identify their target animals quickly using a visual tag, they can more efficiently execute breeding programs, optimise their grazing strategies, and strengthen herd productivity.


Utilising visual tags is a manual process wherein producers must track their livestock using predetermined colour and number systems. Each tag can be printed or marked with a number that is consequently assigned to each animal and correlates with their chosen management system.

What are electronic NLIS cattle tags? For producers with more complex tracking needs, electronic National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) tags are paramount – and for cattle producers, an approved NLIS device is mandatory. Electronic tags employ RFID technology that transmits data via radio waves to a herd management software system. This allows producers to track the behaviour of their animals in great detail and removes a lot of the complexity that is inherent to manual tagging. From 2025, NLIS tagging will also be mandatory Australia-wide for sheep and goats.