As of Jan. 1, individual identification of breeding stock headed to harvest will transition from backtags to the use of official, U.S. Department of Agriculture-approved eartags, according to the National Pork Board.
The eartags, called official premises identification number (PIN) tags, must be applied on the farm to individual breeding swine being marketed into harvest channels to link the animal to the sending premises. PIN tags are not required for feeder pigs, growers or market hogs.
In support of the Swine ID Plan, most major U.S. packers and processors will require PIN tags as a condition of sale for breeding stock beginning Jan. 1. To date, packers that will require the tags include Johnsonville, Hillshire Brands, Calihan Pork Processors, Bob Evans Farms, Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Pine Ridge Farms, Pioneer Packing Co., Pork King Packing and Abbyland Pork Pack.
“The official PIN tags are a significant improvement over backtags that are not imprinted with a premises identifier and are prone to come off,” says Patrick Webb, DVM, director of swine health for the Pork Checkoff. “When used in breeding stock, the official PIN tags will enhance preharvest traceability and national disease surveillance.”
Sows and boars entering harvest channels are often commingled, sorted and shipped with animals from other sources. Individual identification is essential for targeted surveillance and rapid and accurate traceback for diseases that could affect trade and commerce, such as pseudorabies or foot-and-mouth disease.
“If there is a disease issue, PIN tags could expedite the investigation, identify the site and aid officials in quickly containing the outbreak to help limit potential damage for the producer and the rest of the industry,” Webb says. “The official PIN tags demonstrate to our trading partners that we have a valid pre-harvest traceability system. With more than 25% of U.S. pork production going to foreign buyers, that assurance helps keep export markets viable. ... The official tags also play a role in the industry’s Pork Quality Assurance programs, providing an excellent way to identify sows and boars during production and to keep accurate treatment and movement records.”
A premises identification number will locate a specific animal production site. The standardized PIN is a USDA-allocated, seven-character alphanumeric code, with the right-most character being a check digit. For example: AB23456. Note that PINs are not the same as location identification numbers administered through a state’s or tribe’s internal system.
Learn more about the Swine ID Plan and PIN requirements at www.pork.org.