"The commoner practice nowadays is to daub the animal's head, back, or side with tar or raddle, or the side with the owner's initials in black or red, which requires renewal after shearing. Some shepherds, however, especially the mountain men, still cut the ears; the distinction is then, of course, permanent. The different cuts provide a number of variations, and these can be greatly multiplied by making a different cut on each ear. The marking is done when the lamb is about a month old, or not much more.
The names for the ear-marks do not agree in all parts of the Island. Some names have gone out of use in places, and the general term 'beim' is substituted. One word may even stand for different cuts in different districts. Hence such information as is now procurable is often vague and sometimes contradictory, and the following list of terms (gathered chiefly in the North) leaves ample room for additions and corrections..."
—W. Walter Gill, Manx Dialect Words and Phrases, 1934