An accurate set of records on swine performance is one of the best management tools that a producer can have. In order to keep such records, producers must be able to identify pigs. One method used is the universal ear notching system. With this system up to 161 litters can be notched on the ear.
When referring to the right and left on a pig, we do so from the pig’s perspective. Therefore the pig’s right and left are the same as yours if you are standing in back of the pig, and reversed if you face the pig.
The pig’s right ear is called the litter ear. When a sow has a litter, all the pigs in the litter receive identical notches on the right ear.
The left ear in the pigs is the pig number in the litter. Each pig in the litter will have different notches in this ear.
The pig’s ear is divided into 4 quadrants and notches in those quadrants can represent 1, 3, 9, or 27. 81 may be notched at the tip of the ear.
A pig will have a minimum of one notch on each ear. If the right ear added up to 61 and the left 1. The notches would be written as 61-1, and pronounced as “sixty one dash one”.
Ear notching does not allow for premises identification or individual pig identification off premises, as many 61-1 can be notched all throughout the state or country.
Thus came the tattoo or identification tag. The tattoo or identification tag allowed for a premises to be identified. Being able to identify the premises is a very important piece in disease traceability.
Now as we integrate into the electronic world, there are electronic individual identification tags that allow for the premises and the individual pig to be identified without earnotching or tattooing.
Today the Agency published an administrative order that allows swine producers to determine if they would like to earnotch and tattoo/tag or use official animal identification alone.
“A person with swine subject to individual and/or premises identification pursuant to A.A.C. R3-2-411 or R3-2-611 may alternatively use official USDA eartags to meet the identification requirements in those rules. This alternative authorization includes the use of the official USDA eartag numbers on certificates of veterinarian inspection, Department-issued certificates of inspection, and bills of sale.”
Please note that although an alternative to earnotching has been provided, presently all Arizona state fairs still require notching to exhibit pigs.
Official USDA eartags are animal identification in which the premises and the individual pig is identified. Examples of official identification are 840 tags, USDA Swine Premises Tags, and Silver/ NUES metal or plastic tags. These tags can be Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) or Electronic Identification Devices (EID). The use of these tags will aid in animal health emergencies and disease investigation.
Don’t forget to document, document, document all ownership changes and movements, and save those records for at least 5 years.
Serving Arizonans…One Animal at a Time