Every sheep has a unique
nose-print like humans have unique finger prints. Nose-prints
can be used as a biometric method of animal identification.
Both sheep and cattle can be individually identified on the basis of the arrangement and distribution of ridges and valleys on the muzzle.
The method is cheap and simple: ink is applied to the nose and used to make an impression on paper, rather like taking a finger-print from a human. Its accuracy depends, however, on each print being taken in the same way, with the same pressure, ink and type of paper to avoid confusing two animals. They may also be difficult to read due to smearing and they require a trained eye to verify a match. The method is therefore dependent upon the operator’s skills. Nose-prints have been shown to be stable over time.