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Do You Need Premises ID Tags?

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You may have heard there is a deadline coming up. You probably heard it had something to do with Premises ID Number (PIN) Tags. And like most people, you’re probably confused about whether you need these tags, which tags you need, and which animals you need to put them on. The short answer: As a part of the pork industry’s Swine ID Plan, all culled breeding stock heading to many major U.S. packers will require an official,USDA-approved PIN tag beginning January 1, 2015.

Why do I need a Premises ID Number?

The purpose of the Swine ID Plan is to monitor and trace pigs in the event of a disease problems or other emergencies. Your PIN will also be used when submitting blood and tissue samples to test for disease. This is required of all pork producers so even if you won’t be sending breeding stock to harvest any time soon you should still get one. Think of it as a 911 address for your pigs.

Most major U.S. packers will require the PIN tag to harvest culled breeding stock. This includes companies like Johnsonville, Hillshire, Calihan, Bob Evans, Pioneer, Pork Pack, Abbyville, Pork King, and Pine Ridge Farms.

How do I get a PIN?

There is an identification program coordinator in each state vet’s office or you can call the Pork Checkoff’s Service Center at 800-456-7675 to get the information from them. Then you have to provide some basic information like the name of your company, contact info, and the type of operation. You also need to register a PIN for each production site.

What about heavy gilts or boars that haven’t been used for breeding?

This is the gray area in the USDA’s definition of breeding swine, which includes “sexually intact swine over six months of age”. The Pork Checkoff currently recommends talking to your buyers about where the animals will be marketed. Be safe and use a PIN tag if there is a chance they’ll go to a sow/boar plant.

Which tags do I need?

This is one area there seems to be a lot of confusion. Just having a tag with your Premises ID Number printed on it does not make it an official PIN tag. The official tag is USDA-approved and has your 7-digit alpha-numeric PIN printed on the front and back. The front of the tag has an official U.S. shield and so does the button. The PIN is printed with a barcode on the back. You can order tags with or without a herd or management number.

Currently there are three manufacturers producing the official PIN tags, including Destron-Fearing, AllFlex, and Y-Tex. Because tags are made to order it’s best to allow 3-4 weeks for delivery.

Do I need PIN tags for showing?

Show requirements vary greatly depending on location and association. It’s best to check with the sanctioning body to determine requirements for each show. Brian Arnold of the National Swine Registry said NSR is requesting breeders use a federally recognized, permanent tag with a number unique to that animal. The tag should have the US shield logo but does not need to be RFID capable as of 2014.

Where can I get more information?

The Pork Checkoff has an amazing amount of resources online and their PIN Tag Guide is no exception. If you search for “PIN Tag” on their site you’ll find all the information you could ever ask for. Your state vet’s office is another good resource and, of course, we are always happy to help with any questions you have.