Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, offers these ideas for New Year resolutions for cattle producers:

  • I’ll register my premise number.
  • I’ll tag my cows and calves and record birth dates of calves, thus making them eligible for age and source verification programs.
  • I’ll sell my cull cows before they die of old age.
  • I’ll attempt to establish some legumes in my fescue fields.
As producers tag and record cattle info, Cole says building year of birth into a numbered ID system is helpful. "This is important for in-herd identification and some might find the international letters coding system helpful in their records system."

Cole says the international system uses all but four letters of the alphabet to indicate the animal's year of birth. "Back in 1969 when this system went into popular use among cattlemen, especially among some purebred breeders, the letter A was designated as the letter code for that year," Cole says.

Since that time, producers have gone through the alphabet nearly twice. The letters I, O, Q and V are not used because they are easily confused with numerals.

The year 2008 was a "U," 2009 is “W” and 2010 will be “X.”
The use of the alphabet helps prevent repeating the same number each 10 years when the year number is incorporated into the herd identification. Avoiding duplication of ID numbers also reduces confusion when the data is computerized.
-- Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist