Dr Michaela Giles clarifies the legal requirements of pig identification…

For pig keepers there are two practices for the identification of pigs: legal and pedigree. British Pig Association (BPA), British Lop Pig Society (BLPS) and British Kunekune Pig Society (BKKPS) members must follow both practices. The good news is that pedigree identification of pigs incorporates all the legal requirements.

The legal identification of pigs in the UK is governed by the Pig Records, Identification and Movements Order (PRIMO) 2011. Before the first set of pigs arrives on your County/Parish/ Holding (CPH), or within 30 days of arrival, you’ll need to apply to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) to register as a pig keeper. You will be issued with a herd mark, sometimes referred to as a herd number or slap-mark number, which consists of one or two letters followed by four numbers, such as AB1234 or A1234. This sequence is the unique identifier for the herd of pigs you keep on your registered holding; even if there are periods of time you don’t have any pigs at all, the herd mark will remain current, and no re-application is required. The herd mark is used on all forms of identification methods, and on the electronic Animal Movement Licence (eAML2) when you move your pigs.

When you buy a pig that’s under 12 months old, it can be moved from the holding where it was born to another holding, aka farm-to-farm, with a temporary mark; something like a coloured spot or stripe made using a spray marker will suffice. The only legal requirement at this stage is that the temporary mark must last until the end of the journey. This is the only time you can move pigs with a temporary mark.

If you are moving a pig older than 12 months from farm to farm, these must be visibly identified with your herd mark, by means of an ear tag, slap mark (shoulder tattoo) or an ear tattoo. Slap marks are generally used for identification for the abattoir, although the PRIMO regulations state that you can do so if you wish but only if they can be clearly seen on the live pig. If you can’t see the slap mark on the live pig, then you’ll be required to ear tag as well.

Ear tags must have your herd mark printed or etched on them, prefixed by the country code letters ‘UK’ and an individual number. They must be of such quality that they can be easily read for the lifetime of the pig and, if applicable, after processing at the abattoir. Consequently, they need to be made of metal or a heat resistant plastic, and not handwritten in ink. NB: Ear tattoos and slap marks do not have to be prefixed with UK

This article extract was taken from the January 2024 edition of The Country Smallholder. To read the article in full and learn more about pig identification from Dr Michaela Giles, you can buy the issue here.

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