You may purchase a tattoo outfit and tattoo letters/paste through your rural supply outlet or alternatively by making inquiries with Maxine at Leader Products (Auckland)

Phone (09) 444 6180
Fax (09) 444 1220

All breeders choosing to tattoo (rather than brand) must do so inside the ear using the animal’s individual/station number and three digit tattoo block. The calf has the private/station number in the right ear and the tattoo block (eg SUN as shown below) in the left ear. This must be done within 120 days of birth (4 months), except under exceptional circumstances as approved by Council.


Right Ear                Left Ear
SUN                        113

This calf is from herd SUN (12345) and it’s individual number is 113.
NB No two animals may have the same tattoo number. Each tattoo must be unique
Eg 00 113 Animal 113 born 2000  or  01 113 Animal 113 born 2001


Equipment required for the job:

  1. Tattooing pliers, and three sets of numbers 0 to 9
  2. Insignia of tattoo block eg “SUN”
  3. Tube of paste – the preferred paste is Ketchum brand from Canada, available at the office.
  4. Methylated spirits and piece of cloth
  5. A piece of white cardboard (for experimentation).


  1. Clean thoroughly with cloth and meths the part of each ear to be tattooed. This removes the natural grease from the ear’s surface.
  2. Lightly smear a thick layer of paste on the flat part of the ear, that is free of hair and between the cartilaginous ridges, ie between the two veins.
  3. Insert herd number insignia into the pliers.
  4. Hold the piece of white cardboard in approximately the same position and facing the same way as the left ear of the calf, and holding the tattooing pliers on the same angle as for tattooing the left ear, tattoo the card to check that the insignia have been entered correctly.
  5. Apply paste to the points of the tattoo letters/numbers.
  6. Now tattoo the ear. Insert the pliers with the points which form the insignia facing the inside of the ear.
  7. The action required for puncturing is a quick, hard, sharp squeeze, then allow the pliers to open as quickly as possible. Go with the opening action to avoid any tendency to tear the ear.
  8. Then immediately rub the paste in hard, using the thumb while supporting the back of the ear with the fingers.
  9. After the tattoo block has been put into the left ear of each calf, the calf’s stud number is put in the right ear in the same way. It is wise to check the number each time by tattooing the card before placing the tattoo permanently in the calf’s ear.