Contract-heifer-grower Lynn Neer has seen it over and over again — when ear tags weren’t applied properly at the farm of origin, it may mean that he has a problem animal on his hands. The animal’s immunity levels may be down because it did not receive adequate colostrum.

His theory: If the calf isn’t ear-tagged properly, it probably means that some of the other processing — including colostrum administration — wasn’t handled properly, either. Perhaps the person in charge of calving was in a hurry. Sometimes, tags are upside down or attached at the very tip of the ear. 

Neer, of Belleville, Pa., raises calves and heifers for four commercial dairy operations.