New Hampshire Glossary: Ear Marks

ear marksa “mark” or distinctive pattern was placed on a domestic animal’s ear

by its owner to identify his own animals.

Marks were commonly created by cropping, notching, or splitting an animal’s ear. These marks are often recorded in public records and sometimes included a description of the color, size, and special characteristics of a particular animal.  This mark was registered with the clerk of the court, or the town clerk, and ears were kept when an animal was butchered as proof of ownership.

Ear marking was the precursor to animal branding on western ranches. Nowadays ear tags or tatoos are often used instead.


Additional Reading

Example of Ear Mark Book

Lost Sheep in Hampton NH

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