Young cattle producer discovers Angus ear tags need better promotion

OLDS, Alta. — Thomas Wildman says working with cattle is a sport, but he also takes the business seriously.

The 15-year-old from Sangudo, Alta., decided to run an online survey to assess people’s opinions about green identification ear tags offered by the Canadian Angus Association. The project was part of a marketing competition for the mega junior show, Summer Synergy, but he was also personally interested because his family uses the tags.

Various Canadian associations sell different coloured electronic ear tags to indicate breed influence. The Angus association sells green tags to identify cattle that are at least 50 percent Angus. They are compatible with the Canadian Cattle Identification Agency ear tags.

He launched his survey in May with help from the Angus association and was overwhelmed by the response when nearly 300 replied.

“We got one person from every province,” he said.

He found an even split between male and female respondents whose herds ranged in size from 100 to 250 cows. Most were family farms with registered cattle and most run Black Angus herds.

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Most had heard of the program and were quite blunt in their assessment of the tags.

Some complained the colours and letters on the tags fade and were not as high a quality as they might like.

Thomas Wildman received nearly 300 producer opinions from a survey he conducted about the green ear tags, above, used to identify cattle that are at least 50 percent Angus. | Barbara Duckworth photo

His parents, Kirk and Jill Wildman, expressed the same concern when they put the green button tags into the ears of weaned calves.

“We find with the ear tags, they kind of fade over time,” he said.

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Some said they did not see any value in the tags and did not use them.

“That might be the one thing the Angus association might take to heart,” he said.

“They need to get a way to tell people this might help them in selling their cows whether it is for slaughter or breeding purposes.”

Other respondents said they ran big commercial herds and used tags from other breeds.

Thomas has been active with cattle since his parents bought him his first Red Angus heifer at the age of three.

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He is busy with 4-H as well and started showing his first animals when he joined the movement at age nine.