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Background and Summary of Invention
This invention relates to animal identification tags, and more particularly, to a two-piece ear tag assembly for hogs comprising a main identification tag member and a tag attachment member and which may include an electronic identification signal generating means.
Various problems and prior art solutions related to animal identification tags and tag applicators are discussed in prior United States patents, Nos. 3,260,007; 3,896,577; 3,958,353; 4,102,073; 4,121,591; 4,147,168; 4,516,577;
4,552,147; 4,612,877; 4,718,374 and 4,738,258, the disclosures of which are incorporated herein by reference.
In general, the present invention relates to two piece tag assemblies wherein there is an identification member and an attachment member which are made of molded plastic material. The tag assembly of the present invention is particularly adapted to be mounted in the rear side central portion of the rear side part of the ear of the hog (swine} animal species. The present invention comprises a tag assembly of relatively small size which is constructed and arranged not only to be easily mounted in a preferred location, but which is also constructed and arranged to prevent damage in use, and employs a flexible connecting means rather than a rigid connection means.

-2- The- present invention involves the use of an one piece identification member having a flat identification portion with a transversely extending intermediate flexible connecting strap portion which terminates in a connecting head portion. A tag attachment member is mounted in the animal ear pocket to receive the head portion. The identification portion faces rearwardly to be at the rear of the animal ear while also being protected from engagement with foreign objects such as fence wires and posts, stall frames, trees and branches, ropes, etc. because of its location immediately to the rear of the animal ear. The identification portion is segmented to provide a plurality of resilient flexible sections to resist damage including damage resulting from chewing by other hogs. In addition, the construction and arrangement of the identification member facilitates the use of an electronic identification signal sending means mounted on the identification member. For example, a low range electronic identification device may be mounted on the identification member and be- in proper operational position as the animal places its head into a feeding or watering bowl or trough having an electronic identification signal receiving means for receiving identification signals from the electronic identification signal sending means. The use of a relatively thin flexible generally flat connecting strap means portion on the identification member reduces strain on the animal ear and less likelihood of loss of the identification member in use.
Another feature of the present invention is the provision of an one piece tag attachment member which is con-structed and arranged to be located inside the animal ear with a central slot adapted to enable a portion of the flat -3- connecting strap means to extend therethrough and resilient flexible retaining means in juxtaposition to the central slot for retainingly engaging a head portion on the end of the strap means. Other advantages and features of the invention are described hereinafter. While the ear tag assembly and system of the present invention has particular utility for use with hogs, it is contemplated that the invention may be used for other kinds of domestic and non-domestic animals.

Brief Description Of Drawings
Illustrative and preferred embodiments of the invention are shown by the accompanying drawings in which:
Fig. 1 is a side elevational view, partly in cross- section, of an ear tag assembly of the present invention mounted in an animal ear;
Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the identification member of the assembly of Fig. 1;;
Fig. 3 is a rear end view of the identification member; Fig. 4 is a top view of the identification member;
Fig. 5 is a bottom view of the identification member;
Fig. 6 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the identification member in association with an applicator blade of an applicator tool;
Fig. 7 is a front side view of the retaining member of the assembly of Fig. 1;
Fig. 8 is a side elevational view of the retaining member;
Fig. 9 is a cross-sectional side elevational view of the retaining member;

Fig. 10 is a side elevational view of an applicator tool for application of the tag assembly of the present invention;
Fig. 11 is a side elevational view of an applicator blade for use with the applicator tool of Fig. 10; and
Fig. 12 is a top view of the applicator blade.
(Please note that Figs. 1-6 of the drawings submitted with the application are informal, computer-generated drawings without use of dotted lines to differentiate between hidden and non-hidden lines. The informal drawing lines have been partially darkened with black ink to indicate non-hidden solid lines in various views) .

Detailed Description
In general, the two piece ear tag assembly 20 of the present invention comprises an identification member 22 made of one piece of resilient molded plastic material, such as polyurethane, and an attachment member 24 made of one piece of relatively rigid, but also resilient molded plastic material such as Nylon which are adapted to be mounted on the ear 26 of a swine-type (e.g., hog) animal as shown in Fig. 1.
The terms "vertical", "upper", "lower", "upwardly", "downwardly", "forwardly", "rearwardly", "inner", "outer" and related terms used in this specification and the append-ed claims refer to the normal position of the tag assembly when mounted in a generally horizontal attitude on the ear of an animal as shown in Fig. 1. However, the tag assembly may be mounted in various other attitudes on various other portions of the body of various other kinds of animals, birds and wildlife.

While the inventive concepts are applicable to various kinds of animals, the present tag assembly is particularly adapted to use with animals of swine species and, in particular, mass produced domestic hogs raised for slaughter at commercial meat packing plants. As generally illustrated in Fig. 1, the ear of swine-type animals comprises a generally horizontally extending upper portion 30 which interconnects a relatively short vertically downwardly extending front lobe portion 32 terminating in a lower anterior border 33 and a relatively long vertically downwardly extending rear lobe portion 34 terminating in a posterior border 35. There is an area 36 of the animal ear in the rear lobe portion which is particularly well suited for mounting of the animal tag assembly of the present invention. The area 36 is located between a first lowermost cartilage rib portion and a next upwardly adjacent cartilage rib portion. The area 36 provides a relatively flat, generally vertically extending, rearwardly facing outer surface 37 and a relatively flat generally vertically extending forwardly facing inner surface 38 along an inner pocket area.
In general, the identification member 22 comprises a flat relatively thin (e.g., 0.06 inch) enlarged generally vertically extending identification portion 40 having a generally annular peripheral configuration with a central axis 41, a narrow width generally horizontally extending flexible strap portion 42 having a central longitudinal axis 43 which is coaxial with central axis 41, and an enlarged connecting head portion 44 which is connectably associated with attachment member 24. The identification portion 40 has a central core portion 46 and a plurality of resilient flexible segmental portions 48-53 separated by radially -6- extending slots 54-59 and resiliently flexibly pivotally connected to the core portion 46 by hinge means 60-65 (Fig.

3). The segmenta1 portions are adapted to bear suitable alpha/numeric visual identifying indicia 66 applied to

5 rearwardly facing coplanar marking surfaces 68 in any
suitable manner such as by ink images or hot stamping or by slots cut through the identification portion. Strap portion

42 extends forwardly through a horizontal cut slit 70, Fig.

1, in the animal ear and through a central horizontal
10 passage 72 in attachment member 24. Head portion 44- is
located forwardly of attachment member 24 with rearwardly facing flat inclined abutment surface means 74, 75 engaging forwardly facing rounded surface abutment means 76, 77, on flexible rib portions 78, 79 of attachment member 24. A

15 conventional active or passive electronic signal sending means 80 may be suitably mounted on or attached to the
identification member 22. In the presently preferred embodiment, means 80 has a cylindrical configuration and is mounted in a central cylindrical slot 82 in an enlarged

20 cylindrical portion 83 on the connecting strap portion 42 for sending a coded electronic identification signal to a conventional electronic signal receiver means (not shown) as described in U.S. patents, Nos. 4,512,877 and 4,718,374.
The signal sending means 80 may be placed in slot 82

25 after molding of the identification tag member 40 through opening 85 or the identification tag member may be
integrally molded therearound. Signal sending means 80 may be heat sealed or adhesively fixed in the slot or removably and replaceably mounted therein.
30 Connecting strap portion 42 preferably has approximately the same or slightly larger thickness, e.g., approximately .072 inch, as identification portion 40 as measured between opposite upper and lower flat side surfaces 100, 102, Fig. 6, a width of approximately 0.40 inch as measured between opposite parallel side edge surfaces 104, 106, Fig. 4, and a length of approximately 0.80 inch as measured from identification portion side surface 108 to ■ head portion abutment surface means 74, 75.
Head portion 44 has opposite side edge surfaces 110, 112, which are coplanar with strap side edge surfaces 104, 106. Abutment means 74 is provided by an inclined side surface 113, Figs. 4 - 6, extending between a flat upper head surface 114 and strap side surface 100. Abutment means 75 is provided by a pair of spaced inclined coplanar side surfaces 115, 116, Figs. 5 & 6, extending between spaced flat lower head surfaces 117, 118 and strap side surface 102.
In general, head portion 44 comprises an uppermost relatively large-size main portion 44a and a lowermost relatively small-size lug portion 44b for mounting in a blade mounting slot in an applicator blade as hereinafter described. Uppermost head portion 44a and lowermost head portion 44b converge in a forwardmost pointed tip portion 120. Head portion 44a has upwardly rearwardly inclined upper curved surfaces 122, 123, Figs. 1 _ 4, which intersect along a rearwardly upwardly inclined straight edge surface 124 and inwardly curved side edge surfaces 126, 127. Lug portion 44b has downwardly rearwardly inclined lower curved surfaces 128, 129, Figs. 1 & 5, which intersect along a downwardly rearwardly inclined lead edge surface 130.
A cutting blade slot means 132, Fig. 6, is provided in head portion 44 for receiving a correspondingly shaped portion of a cutting blade of a conventional applicator tool for mounting of the tag assembly as hereinafter described. A suitable applicator tool is shown and described in EPO application. Serial No. 0138570, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference. Slot means 132 comprises a bottom wall portion 134 having a flat inclined upper surface 136, a rearwardly inclined upper transverse curved front surface 138, flat side wall surfaces 140, 142, Fig. 4, and an inclined rear flat surface 144, and a slot 146 between abutment surface portions 115, 116. Bottom wall portion 134 has a flat bottom outer surface 147 and parallel

outer side surfaces 148, 149 which merge with curved surfaces 128, 129. A slot 150 is defined by inclined side wall portions 152, 154 and a rearwardly facing inclined surface 156. An important feature is the location of the rear end of slot 132 substantially forwardly of the abutment means 74, 75 within the portion of the head of maximum thickness. The construction and arrangement is such as to provide rearwardly facing opening means for enabling insertion and withdrawal of the cutting blade while also providing rearwardly facing abutment means for engagement with the cutting blade during mounting of the ear tag assembly.
As shown in Fig. 3, core portion 46 has a sextagonal peripheral configuration and a maximum width of approxi ate-ly 0.40 inch, as measured between connecting portions 158, 159 which are coplanar with strap side surfaces, and a width of approximately 0.36 inch as measured between opposite side surfaces 160, 161. Hinge means 60-65 are formed by slots 162 having inclined side walls 163, 164, Fig. 1. Slots 162 have a depth of approximately one-half (e.g., .03 inch) the thickness of the segmental portions 48-53 and a maximum width of approximately .044 inch. Radial slots 54-59 intersect and extend into hinge slots 162 opposite core side connecting portions 158, 159. The construction and arrange- ent is such that each of the segmental portions 48-53 can be resiliently pivotally displaced at least 90° both forwardly and rearwardly as illustrated by dotted lines 48a, 48b in Fig. 5. In addition, segmental portion 53 has a greater radial length and is of larger size than the other segmental portions so as to provide a locator means in the form of an upwardly protruding ear portion 165. Upper locator segment portion 53 and opposite' lower segment portion 50 are located in alignment with upper and lower strap surfaces 100, 102 with associated hinge means 62, 65 extending parallel to surfaces 100, 102. Thus, locator ear portion 53 extends vertically upwardly when the strap portion 42 extends horizontally.
In the presently preferred embodiment, the identification portion has a thickness of approximately 0.060 inch; small radius segmental portions 48-52 have a radius of approximately 13/16 inch; and large radius segmental portion 53 has a radius of approximately 15/16 inch. The width of core portion 46 is approximately 3/8 inch. Strap portion 42 has a thickness of approximately 0.072 inch, a length of approximately 0.79 inch and a width of approximately -.40 inch. Head portion 44 has a length of approximately 0.66 inch, a maximum width of 0.40 inch and a maximum thickness of approximately .2078 inch as measured between surfaces 113 _ 147. Portion 134 has a width of approximately 0.22 inch as measured between side surfaces 148, 149.

-10- In use, the flexible resilient small size segmental identification portions resist gripping action between the teeth of other hogs who may attempt to chew on the identification portion. At least four segmental portions should be provided and the use of six segmental portions is particularly advantageous.
As shown in Figs. 7-9, retaining member 24 comprises a general flat base portion 170 having an oval peripheral configuration defined by opposite parallel flat front and rear side surfaces 172, 174, opposite parallel' side edge surfaces 176, 178 and opposite parallel side edge surfaces 180, 182. Rear side surface 172 is engageable with the front side surface of the animal ear. Central slot means 72 has an I-εhape peripheral configuration defined by a central slot portion 184 and opposite transverse end slot portions 186, 188. The length of slot portion 184, as measured
between side surfaces 190, 192 is slightly larger than the width of head portion 44 as measured between side surfaces 110, 112 to enable the head portion 44 to freely pass there-through. The width of slot portion 184, as measured between end surfaces 194, 196, Fig. 9, is substantially larger than the maximum width of head portion 44 as measured between head surfaces 114, 147 to allow passage of the head portion and cutting blade member. Resilient rib portions 78, 79 are inwardly inclined toward one another with tapered oppositely spaced side surfaces terminating in rounded end surfaces 76, 77, normally defining an opening 198 having a width less than the thickness of head portion 44 between surfaces 114, 117, 118. Thus, head portion 44 may be forced through the slot by resilient outward deflection of rib portions 78, 79 which then resiliently inwardly deflect to engage abutment means 74, 75 whereby the head portion 44 may not be withdrawn through the slot after assembly on the animal ear. However, the construction and arrangement is such as to permit limited relative movement between the retaining member and the head portion and the strap portion in various directions to avoid breakage and irritation.
In assembly and mounting of the identification member 22 and the attachment member 24, a suitable applicator tool may be utilized with the identification member being mounted on one jaw in association with a reciprocable cutting knife blade for cutting the ear slit and the attachment member being mounted on the other jaw. As shown in Fig. 10, a conventional applicator tool 200 comprises a U-shape jaw portion 202 having a retainer member mounting slot 204 opposite a movable blade member 206 mounted in an operating mechanism housing 208 and being operable by movable handle member 210. In operation, the retainer member 22 is placed in slot 204. The head portion 44 of identification member 20 is mounted in an opening in blade member 206 with identi- fleation portion 40 supported on applicator barrel 212 by enlarged locator segment 53 and strap portion 42 curved upwardly therebetween.
As shown in Figs. 11 and 12, in general, blade member 206 has a cutting tip front end portion 220 which is later-ally offset from a central intermediate shank portion 222 and connected thereto by an inclined connecting portion 224. Rear end shank portion 225 is slidably mounted in applicator tool barrel 212. A head lug mounting slot 226 is provided in cutting tip portion 220 and a holding tang portion 228 extends forwardly from shank portion 222 above the rear portion of mounting slot 226. Mounting slot 226 has a size and 06570
-12- shape generally corresponding to the blade mounting lug portion 44b of the head portion of the identification tag.

Holding tang portion 228 has a size and shape such as to be frictionally slidably insertable into slot 132 in head portion 44. As the blade is forcibly driven forwardly, a slit is cut in the animal ear and the head portion 44 is carried through the slit and the slot 72 in the retaining member 24. When the blade is retracted, the head portion 44 is released from the blade and the blade is retracted through the retainer member slot and the ear slit. In the preferred embodiment, the blade is pivotally mounted relative to the tool drive mechanism so as to facilitate release and removal relative to the animal ear.
The construction and arrangement of the head portion 44 of the identification member 22 and the cutting blade member 206 is generally applicable to other types of identification tags and applicator tools. For example, the construction and arrangement disclosed herein is preferable to that disclosed in prior U.S. patent No. 4,612,877 and provides substantially improved results.
The cutting blade member 206 has a rectangular cross-sectional configuration and cutting tip portion 220 is laterally offset relative to the central shank portion 222 and connected thereto by an inclined connecting portion. The elongated tag mounting slot 226 is centrally located in and extends through the cutting end portion between the tip portion and the connection portion. The mounting slot has spaced parallel side wall surfaces 230, 232, a transverse flat rear side wall surface 234 and forwardly, upwardly inclined transverse intersecting curved front wall surfaces 236, 238. Tang portion 228 is mounted on the inclined connecting portion 224 and extends forwardly toward and has a forward end portion 229 located above the rear end portion of the mounting slot 226.
The mounting slot 226 has a size and shape which general- ly corresponds to the size and shape of the mounting lug portion 44b of the tag head 44, except that the length of the mounting slot is substantially longer than the length of the mounting lug portion to enable relative longitudinal sliding movement therebetween during mounting of the tag on the blade and release of the tag from the blade after assembly on the animal ear. The tag head 44 is mounted on the blade by placing the mounting lug 44b in the front end of the mounting slot 226 with curved lug side surfaces 128, 129 engaging curved slot side surfaces 236, 238 and with the front tang end portion 229 located rearwardly adjacent and aligned with the opening 146 to the tang slot 132. Then, the tag head 44 is moved rearwardly to cause the holding tang to enter the tang slot.132 and engage the inclined slot surface 136 which causes lateral downward displacement of the tag head lug portion 44b into the blade mounting slot 226 until the flat bottom surfaces of head portion 44a between head side flange surfaces 126, 127 and head surfaces 128, 1'29 engage the upper blade surfaces 248, 250 adjacent the mounting slot 226. The tag head is moved rearwardly until the rearwardly facing sur-faces 152, 154 on lower head portion 44b engage the rear end blade slot surface 234 and tang front end surface engages head slot front surface 138. Spaced head surfaces 117, 118 abut inclined blade surfaces 239, 240 whereby in the mounted position, the tag head 44 is located in an upwardly rearwardly inclined position with the pointed head tip portion 120 located within blade slot 226 below the plane of the upper blade surface 242. The flexible resilient strap portion 42 is upwardly rearwardly curved.

-14-toward the identification portion 40 which is supported on applicator tool barrel in generally parallel relationship to the blade. The cutting blade and the tag head portion are driven through the animal ear and through the retaining member until the head abutment means 74, 75 pass beyond the retaining member abutment means 76, 77. Then, any relative longitudinal movement between the tag head 44 and the blade 206 causes the blade tang portion 228 to be removed from the tang slot 132 and engagement of the front end curved lug surfaces 128, 129 with blade slot curved surfaces 236,238 lifts the lug portion 44b out of the blade lug slot 226. When the blade is withdrawn from the connector member slot 72, the resilient rib portions 78, 79 move into gripping engagement with the head abutment means 74, 75 to prevent withdrawal of the tag head from the connector member. The strap portion is located in a generally horizontally extending position and the rectangular cross-sectional configuration resists turning in the rectangular shape ear slit so that the tag assembly remains in the initially installed position.
While illustrative and presently preferred embodiments of the inventive concepts have been disclosed herein, the inventive concepts may be otherwise variously embodied and it is intended that the appended claims be construed to include alternative- embodiments except as limited by the prior art.