Nowadays crofters use plastic tags, clipped onto the ears of their sheep, to enable them to identify their flock, but that was not always the case.
There were nine basic cuts to the ear and by using different combinations of these cuts every crofter had his (or her) own unique earmark and this identified the sheep. Unlike the plastic tags, which can be lost in fences etc, the 'comharran' were for life. In Lewis, the marks 1 to 9 are the old ear-marks known as "na noidh gearraidh". Nos.10 and 11 are of more modern origin.
Common Grazings and Grazing Regulations
The crofts 1 to 48 were lotted in their present form in 1851, but the clearance of North Tolsta in 1853 caused overcrowding in South Tolsta. Statistics show that the population of South Tolsta increased from 272 to 448 in the ten years between 1851 and 1861. Extra crofts were added around 1861, but in 1883 the Napier Commission inquiry recorded that there were still as many squatters as crofters in Tolsta and the situation was desperate. The first Crofters' Act was passed in 1886 and the following rules were later given for the management of the common grazings.