The cow's identification number holds his life story, as well as a greater financial reward for farmers.
Beef typically starts out on farms like Nathan Simpson's Maple Hill Farm in Loudon County.
However, the cows only stay there until they're about nine months old.
"They travel to Texas, Kansas, Iowa to feed lots, where the grain grows," Simpson explained.
They'll eat grains for another four months, then travel again.
"They're sold to a packing plant, they're harvested, then they're sold as beef in your grocery store," said Jennifer Houston, Chairman of New Products and Culinary Initiatives Committee for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association.
That process can span tens of thousands of miles. For years, it was tracked with stickers.
"A paper back tag with adhesive glue, and some animals are still done that way. But this thing might come off in two weeks or six months," Houston said.
Electronic identification tags will not.
"EID tags allow us to track these calves at any point in the chain back to their farm of origin, which is very important," Houston said. "People are interested in where their food comes from and what farm it originated off of. "
Simpson's been tagging his calves with EIDs for a decade, but last year was the first year he and other East Tennessee farmers were able to sell the calves in an age and source verified sale.
"This is age and source verified," Simpson said pointing to one of his calves. "I know what day he was born, I know his mother and his father."
The cow's identification number holds his life story, as well as a greater financial reward for Simpson.
"The people who will buy them will pay more for one they can track," Simpson said.
An age and source verified calf typically raises its price from $400 to $500.
The money's nice, but Simpson takes his reputation seriously.
Qualifying for the tags requires a lot of work, like taking a class on vaccines and properly caring for the calves to ensure they make it through their long trek.
"If you're in good shape when you get on the truck, you'll be in better shape when you get off," Simpson said. "[I know] the guy that buys him will get a good calf."
The second source verified sale to date in East Tennessee will be held September 10 at the East Tennessee Livestock Center in Sweetwater.