Nose ring (animals)

A nose ring is the aluminum, stainless steel or copper ring installed through the nasal septum of a domestic bull or sometimes other cattle, or a clip-on ring used for controlling other cattle for showing or handling, or the rings used to prevent pigs rooting.

Full cattle nose rings

Bulls are powerful and sometimes unpredictable animals which, if uncontrolled, can kill or severely injure their handlers. [ [ Jack Albright, "Why and how to read a cow or bull", Hoard's Dairyman Magazine, W.D. Hoard and Sons Co., Fort Atkinson, Wis., (Nov. 2000)] ] ["Dairy Care Practices: Animal Care Series", Dairy Workgroup University of California Cooperative Extension (2008)] The nose ring assists the handler to control a dangerous animal with minimal risk of injury or disruption by exerting stress on one of the most sensitive parts of the animal, the nose.


Control of the bull may be done by holding the ring by hand, looping a piece of twine through it, clipping on a lead rope, or clipping on a "bull pole" ("bull staff"). A rope or chain from the ring may be attached to a bull's horns or to a head-collar for additional control.

For an aggressive bull, a short length of chain or rope may be left hanging from the ring when he is loose, so when he ducks in threat he stands on it and so is deterred from attack. [Miller, William C and Robertson, Major E D S, "Practical Animal Husbandry"' Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh, 7th ed, 1959: p 16]


Bull rings are commonly made from a pair of hinged copper semi-circles, held closed by a small brass bolt whose head is broken off during installation. If a ring needs to be removed (for example if the bull has grown out of it), it is cut or unscrewed. Bull rings are usually about three to five inches (about 8 to 12 cm) in diameter, depending on the size of the bull.


The ring is normally installed when the bull is 9 to 12 months of age. ["Dairy Care Practices: Animal Care Series", Dairy Workgroup University of California Cooperative Extension] It is usually done by a veterinarian, who pierces the septum with a scalpel or punch. Self-piercing rings (with sharp ends designed to be pressed through the septum and then pulled together with a screw) have been available for many years; these are also usually installed by a veterinarian rather than the farmer himself. [ [ C. Dalton, "Noseringing a Bull"] ] [ [ "Dairy Care Practices: Animal Care Series", Dairy Workgroup University of California Cooperative Extension (2008)] ]

Temporary cattle nose rings

Calf-weaning ring

Calf-weaning nose rings or nosebands provide an alternative to separating calves from their mothers during the weaning period. They have plastic spikes which are uncomfortable for the cow, causing her to reject the calf's efforts at suckling. Similar rings are used to prevent cows from suckling each other, and weaning nose rings are also available for sheep and goats. These nose rings (usually made of plastic) clip onto the nose without piercing it, and are re-usable.


Self-locking or spring-close show-lead nose rings, or bulldogs, are removable rings that do not require the nose to be pierced. They are often used on steers and cows, along with a halter, at agricultural shows, or when handling cattle for examination, marking or treatment. They stay shut until released, and usually have a loop for the attachment of a cord or lead-rope. They give similar control to a bull ring without the need for permanent installation.

Bull tongs

Bull-holders or bull-tongs have a pliers action and are used for short periods on grown cattle when they are being mouthed or drenched. A chain, rope or strap keeps the grips closed and may be passed over a bar at the front of a head bail to elevate the head. The thumb and forefinger may also used in this way on smaller animals.

Pig rings

Unrung pigs dig keenly with their snouts, and such digging may be undesirable in some circumstances – for example pigs put out to graze are capable of turning over the grass turf of a whole field in a short time. Nose rings make digging uncomfortable for the animal, although a rung pig is still able to forage freely through leaf litter and surface vegetation. Pig ringing may sometimes be required by local regulations, as when pigs are turned out for pannage in public woods (such as on the New Forest in southern England).

Pig rings consist of open copper wire rings with sharp ends, about one inch (about 2.5 cm) in diameter. They are clipped to the rim of the nose, not through the nostrils. Typically an adult pig will be given three or four rings, as they may sometimes be dislodged.


Historically, the use of nose rings for controlling animals dates to the dawn of recorded civilization. They were used in ancient Sumer and are seen on the Standard of Ur, where they were used on both draught cattle and equines.Fact|date=March 2008

Bull handling in the show ring

Many show societies require bulls over 12 months to be led with a nose ring, and other cattle to be led with nose grip (bulldogs) for safety reasons. Several methods exist for handling a bull with a ring installed. One method of leading a bull is to have one person either side of the bull with both halter lead ropes through the ring, [Land Newspaper, Rural Press, Richmond, 20 March 2008 - p. 68] but a safer practice is for one handler to use a rope and the other a bull-staff attached to the ring. [ [ Bucks County Agricultural Health and Safety Policy] ] [ [ Bridgend County Show Health and Safety Policy] ] A bull may be led by a rope tied through the ring, although a halter (headcollar) is usually also used so as not to rely unduly on the nose ring for control. If the bull has horns the lead rope may be fastened around those and then passed down through the nose ring.

Bull handling and nose rings on the farm

Most dairy or beef farms traditionally had at least one, if not several, bulls for purposes of herd maintenance. [U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Yearbook 1922, Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. (1922), pp. 325-28 (noting a national on-farm bull population of over 600,000 "scrub" bulls in addition to a multi-year supply of "pure bred" bulls)] [O.C. Gregg, Ed., Minnesota Farmer's Institute Annual No. 15, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. (1902), pp.129-32 (recommending the keeping and testing of sires for dairy herd improvement).] The handling an aggressive, powerful animal was a practical issue with life-threatening consequences for the farmer. [Jack Albright, "Why and how to read a cow or bull", Hoard's Dairyman Magazine, W.D. Hoard and Sons Co., Fort Atkinson, Wis., (Nov. 2000)] . It is estimated that 42% of all livestock-related fatalities are a result of bull attacks, and fewer than one in twenty victims of a bull attack survives. [ [ Canadian Farming Administration, "Handling Livestock Successfully", 2000] ] Dairy breed bulls are particularly dangerous and unpredictable; the hazards of bull handling are a significant cause of injury and death for dairy farmers in some parts of the United States. [ [ Larry D. Jacobson, Extension Agricultural Engineer, "Safe Work Practices on Dairy Farms", University of Minnesota Extension Services (1989)] ("During the last 10 years, 12 farmers in Minnesota were mauled and gored to death by dairy bulls").] [ [ Cumberland Count (Pa.) Sentinel, Shippensburg, Pa., February 12, 2008] A farmer in Southampton County, Michigan, was killed by a 2000 pound Holstein bull in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in February, 2008, prompting comments from experts ranging from "never trust a bull" to "always take a dog with you" when handling a bull.] The need to move the bull in and out of its pen to cover cows exposed the farmer to serious jeopardy of life and limb. [Alvin H. Clement, "We Gotta Have More Jails", The Writer's Club Press, New York (1984-87), at pp. 79-80. A humorous description of moving a cow to a neighbor's Jersey bull for breeding purposes, and the use of a 12-foot bull staff to get the loose-running bull under control after he had already spotted the cow] Being trampled, jammed against a wall or gored by a bull was one of the most frequent causes of death in the dairy industry prior to 1940 [O.C. Gregg, Ed., Minnesota Farmer's Institute Annual No. 15, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. (1902), at p. 125; The James Way, The James Manufacturing Co., Ft. Atkinson, Wisc. (1914), p. 103 ] . As suggested in one popular farming magazine, "Handle [the bull] with a staff and take no chances. The gentle bull, not the vicious one, most often kills or maims his keeper." [Helpful Information for Dairymen, "The Farmer" Webb Publishing Co., St. Paul, Minnesota, Mar. 12, 1927, p. 6]

When allowed outside its pen, the bull typically was kept in a halter connected by a strap snapped into the ring in his nose for ease of control. [O.C. Gregg, Ed., "Minnesota Farmer's Institute Annual" 15, p. 126, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn. (1902)] In the bull pen, the use of a ring connected by a cable to a fixed point was recommended as a means of controlling and securing the bull while allowing a degree of movement by the subject bull. [The James Way, The James Manufacturing Co., Ft. Atkinson, Wisc. (1930), p. 114] If the pen was strong enough, the bull could be turned loose, and if needed, placed in a stanchion. [The James Way, The James Manufacturing Co., Ft. Atkinson, Wisc. (1914), p. 103]

Generally the use of both a ring and a halter, and management of the bull by two people, is the preferred method for controlling the bull. One current veterinary text still recommends the use of a staff in addition to the halter:

Many handlers rely on a nose ring to control a bull. But a ring in his nose is no good unless you have a bull staff and use it. A bull staff is a pole with a snap in the end that clips to the bull ring. Leading a bull with a staff gives you a lot more handling power as the bull can't get any closer to you than the length of the staff allows. Leading him only by a chain in the ring lets him run over you at will. [C.E. Spaulding, D.V.M. & Jackie Clay, "Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners", Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, Pa. (2d ed. 1998), p. 27. ]
Typically, a bull was led by a wooden staff with a steel end that snapped into the ring. [ [ example of a bull staff] ] A long rigid steel or wooden bull staff locked into the ring could also be used to push a bull out of a pen without requiring the handler to enter the pen for cleaning or feeding. ["The James Way", The James Manufacturing Co., Ft. Atkinson, Wisc. (1914), at p. 103] Because of the risk that the bull may drive the staff into the handler if he misbehaves [V G Cole, "Beef Production Guide", Livestock & Grain Producers Association of NSW, 1978] many handlers prefer to avoid their use nowadays.

Farmers who lacked an assistant, or a staff, had no choice but to adopt other means. Some farmers elected to move their bulls by tying a rope to the ring and tying the other end of the ring to a farm tractor, providing both motive power and a degree of protection from the angry bull [Sara De Luca, "Dancing the Cows Home: A Wisconsin Girlhood", Minn. Hist. Soc. Press, St. Paul, Minn. (1996) pp.99-100 (moving a heifer with a tractor)] . The efficacy of this technique is doubtful, and may depend on the size of the tractor and of the bull; one authority has "seen a bull lift the front end of a tractor like a toy". [C.E. Spaulding, D.V.M. & Jackie Clay, "Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners", Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, Pa. (2d ed. 1998), p. 27. ] . Others used dogs and horses. Not all farmers could afford specially designed and manufactured bull handling products, which were not readily available until after c. 1980. The experimental improvisation of techniques for bull handling, as in many aspects of family farming, was a common practice. [M. Cotter & B. Jackson, "Voices of America: Growing Up on a Minnesota Farm", Arcadia Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. (2001), pp. 23-24 (driving a 1500 pound Hereford bull named "Domino" by repeatedly firing a shotgun loaded with birdshot into its rear end)] [C.E. Spaulding, D.V.M. & Jackie Clay, "Veterinary Guide for Animal Owners", Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus, Pa. (2d ed. 1998), p. 27 (bull got a man down, knelt on him, and "ignored pitchforks stuck into him in an effort to get him away from the victim"). ] As an example, another technique, the Geier Hitch, allowed a single individual to control a bull, but often resulted in the maiming of the bull's reproductive organs and therefore failed to accomplish its principal objective, transportation of a sexually intact bovine either to market for sale or to a neighboring farm for purposes to procreate for compensation. [See Wikipedia article, Geier Hitch] .

In most regions most bulls do not have nose rings unless they are to be exhibited and they are generally driven about as other cattle would be. [W A Beattie, "Beef Cattle Breeding and Management", Popular Books, 1990]

Most cattle breeders recognize the importance of looking after expensive bulls that are expected to improve herds and profits for them. Nonetheless, the dangers of bull handling, particularly from dairy bulls in close quarters, are regularly proven by the obituaries. ["See" C. Parsons, "Students Mourn Teacher: FFA Advisor Killed by Bull", 81 Capital Press, No.38, page 1 (Sept. 19, 2008) (veteran agricultural instructor killed by a dairy bull after warning others not to enter pen) ] . Good bull management and safety practices require caution in handling beef and dairy bulls, and use of the nose ring and chain is a recommended precaution for modern farmers as well. [ [ Kerri Ebert and Michael Dennis, Pa. Ag. Extension Service, "Cattle Safety", National Ag Safety Database, 2001] ] [ [ B. Grove & A. Mills, "Bulls on the Dairy Farm", Kansas State University, Oct. 4, 2002 ] ]

Cows with young calves are especially dangerous and together with calves, steers and bullocks they cause many serious injuries and deaths to people. [] [ [ Serious Cattle-lnflicted Injuries] ] [ [ injuries are caused by a steer or cow] ]


ee also

* Nasal septum piercing (humans)
* Animal husbandry

External links

* [ The Farmers Mailbox]
* [ Bull management]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Nose ring — may refer to: A nose ring in humans is also known as a Nose piercing, including: Nose jewel, mentioned in the Bible Mola (art form), a cultural practice featuring nose rings A sign of a Hindu woman s marital status; see Mangalsutra A sign of a… …   Wikipedia

  • Nose ring (animal) — For nose rings as jewelry, see nose piercing. Show halters and bulldog nose rings on cattle at an agricultural show in the United Kingdom A nose ring is a ring made of metal designed to be installed through the nasal septum of domestic cattle,… …   Wikipedia

  • Nose piercing — Nicknames Nose ring Location Nose (nostril, nasal septum, nose bridge) Jewelry nose stud, nose b …   Wikipedia

  • ring — ring1 [riŋ] vi. rang or Now Chiefly Dial. rung, rung, ringing [ME ringen < OE hringan < IE echoic base * ker > RAVEN1, CREAK, L corvus, crow] 1. to give forth a clear, resonant sound when struck or otherwise caused to vibrate, as a bell …   English World dictionary

  • Ring-tailed Lemur — Taxobox name = Ring tailed LemurMSW3 Groves|pages=117|id=12100056] status = NT trend = down status system = iucn3.1 status ref = regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Mammalia ordo = Primates familia = Lemuridae genus = Lemur genus… …   Wikipedia

  • ring — ring1 ringless, adj. ringlike, adj. /ring/, n., v., ringed, ringing. n. 1. a typically circular band of metal or other durable material, esp. one of gold or other precious metal, often set with gems, for wearing on the finger as an ornament, a… …   Universalium

  • Nose art — Not to be confused with nose jewels or nose piercing. Count Francesco Baracca and his SPAD S.VII, with the cavallino rampante that inspired the Ferrari emblem. Nose art is a decorative painting or design on the fuselage of a military a …   Wikipedia

  • ring — I. /rɪŋ / (say ring) noun 1. a circular band of metal or other material, especially one of gold or other precious metal, often set with gems, for wearing on the finger as an ornament, a token of betrothal or marriage, etc. 2. anything having the… …   Australian English dictionary

  • List of animals in The Simpsons — The following is a list of animals appearing in the Fox animated television series The Simpsons . Main animalsanta s Little Helper Snowball II Recurring AnimalsAnastasiaAnastasia is a white tiger owned by Gunter and Ernst. She appears alongside… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Middle-earth animals — Contents 1 Species 1.1 Crebain 1.2 Fell beasts 1.3 …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.