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    Application of ear tags in cattle is a common husbandry practice for identification purposes. Although it is known that ear tag application causes damage, little is known about the duration and process of wound healing associated with this procedure. Our objective was to develop a detailed scoring system and use it to quantify wound healing in dairy calves with plastic identification tags. Calves (n = 33) were ear tagged at 2 d of age, and wound photos were taken weekly until 9 to 22 wk of age. This approach generated 10 to 22 observations per calf that were analyzed using a novel wound scoring system. We developed this system to score the presence or absence of external tissue types related to piercing trauma or mechanical irritation along the top of the tag (impressions, crust, and desquamation) and around the piercing (exudate, crust, tissue growth, and desquamation). Ears were scored as "piercing only" when tissue around the ear tag was intact. We found that impressions, crust, tissue growth, and desquamation were still seen in many calves by 12 wk of age. This suggests that extrinsic factors, such as mechanical disturbance and irritation, may have contributed to prolonged wound healing. Indeed, impressions along the top of tag, likely caused by rubbing against the ear, were observed for nearly the full duration of the study. Further research is warranted to understand ways to improve the ear-tagging process. The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. and Fass Inc. on behalf of the American Dairy Science Association®. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


    Megan L Harmon, Blair C Downey, Alycia M Drwencke, Cassandra B Tucker. Development and application of a novel approach to scoring ear tag wounds in dairy calves. Journal of dairy science. 2023 Jul;106(7):5043-5053

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    PMID: 37268583

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