Customized all-weather materials for high-tech herding

No two animals look exactly the same, but telling them apart can get tricky in a herd. Wearable livestock tags make it possible to find the right stock every time. Thanks to customizable all-weather thermoplastics, livestock identification has never been easier – or more reliable.
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Benefits and challenges of plastic ear tagging

Thanks to their large surfaces and bright colors, plastic ear tags can display valuable information such as the lineage or age of an animal. Additional information linked to tags is stored in databases: vaccinations, movement and grazing locations, calving dates and weight development or milking data. This data is available when needed for public safety and disease control.

With a tag, it is also possible to monitor an individual animal’s health. When checkups or treatments are necessary, keeping tabs on an individual animal in a large herd is no longer such a daunting task. Data from scannable electronic identification (EID) tags can be automatically read as animals move from the pasture to the paddock or from the chute to the trailer.

But ear tags are not a fail-safe solution. Sometimes they get caught on a fence or break off in the stall. Lost or broken ear tags need to be replaced – a costly process for farmers, as movement of stock is frequently prohibited until new tags are in place. Without a tag, there may even be no way of verifying a particular animal’s history.

The essential challenge, then, for ear tag manufacturers is to make a tag that lasts for the lifetime of an animal.
Livestock identification is entering the digital age. While traditional ID techniques like branding or earmarks are still used to show ownership, plastic ear tags offer a multitude of options for keeping track of stock. In several livestock systems around the world, plastic ear tags are even mandatory. Beyond the numbers used to identify stock or contain the outbreak of disease, there is one thing that makes or breaks a good tagging system: the material that holds vital animal data.

Every animal has a detailed history. Our flexible and adaptable material solutions keep that history safe in pastures around the world – and wherever it’s needed for identifying and handling livestock. 

Jean-Philippe Delic

Marketing Manager, Covestro

Developing a durable all-in-one material for livestock identification

In response to the challenge of creating a durable tag that complies with relevant regulations (USDA or ISO) and withstands heavy-duty agricultural demands, Covestro has developed customized grades of Desmopan® thermoplastic polyurethanes (TPU).

Dedicated Desmopan® grades have proven their worth in meeting the variable requirements of agriculture for many years. Standard Desmopan® 795U (based on a carbonate diol) has been extended to include customized Desmopan® grades based on other unique polyols from various sources.

Numerous different factors can impact tag performance and related data security – which is why Desmopan® can be tuned to meet the specific requirements of a herd.

Customized animal identification with Desmopan®

Flexible, high-tech Desmopan® thermoplastic elastomers satisfy the need of cattle tag manufacturers for an extremely rugged material that resists cracking and breaking. Desmopan® combines the all-weather durability required by agricultural applications with an excellent resistance to temperature fluctuations.

Desmopan® thermoplastic elastomers are available in various injection molding grades in different Shore levels. These grades can be tuned to account for various factors such as the composition of feedstock or the construction of stables. Attention to these factors can ensure that farmers get the right hardness or flexibility for their needs. These customized TPU solutions can also prevent discoloring and even illegibility of tags due to factors such as methane emissions.

Desmopan® can be combined with special UV stabilizers and offers good hydrolysis and microbial resistance. Desmopan® grades have been tested in accordance with DIN EN ISO 846, method D (soil burying test) to withstand even the toughest grazing situations and climates.

Some formulations are also based on new sustainable raw materials. And softer grades are available for smaller livestock such as sheep or goats.
Tunable Desmopan® can be customized to meet the specific needs of the herd to ensure reliable identification of animals, year after year.

At Covestro we know that no two animals or grazing situations are the same. Our Desmopan® thermoplastic elastomers can be formulated using different components matched to your specific needs.

Key benefits

  • Ultra-durable 
  • Injection molding grade 
  • Special UV stabilizers 
  • Good hydrolysis and microbial resistance 

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