Updates for obtaining official identification for exhibition swine in 2021

Changes in acquiring official identification for show pigs.

Piglet with mom pig

With the 2021 show season just around the corner, there are some important changes for swine tagging that breeders, exhibitors and fairs to be aware of. The Public Act 466 of the Animal Industry Act requires that pigs shown at fairs, exhibitions or shows must have official individual animal identification. There is no change to this requirement moving forward, but what has changed is how the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) will manage the animal identification program.

In the past, county fairs had access to plastic National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES) tags through MDARD for all swine projects that registered with their event. This was done through bulk ordering by the fair of the NUES tags from MDARD. The fair was then responsible for completing corresponding paperwork, including maintaining a record of exhibitor name and address linked to each tag.

Effective December 2020, MDARD will no longer provide bulk orders of official identification tags for fairs or exhibitions. The owner of the animal will be responsible for acquiring the official identification for the animal. This can be done by the exhibitor purchasing a pig that has already been tagged by the breeder with a USDA 840, or by ordering USDA 840 tags. Exhibitors are strongly encouraged to request the tags are placed in the pig before purchasing them. Currently, there is no requirement for the breeder to provide official identification or 840 tags when selling animals.

A Premises Identification Number (PIN) is required to purchase 840 tags from USDA approval suppliers. If you would like to obtain a PIN number, you will need to register your premises with the state of Michigan by calling MDARD at 1-888-565-8626. It is important to remember that PINs are assigned to a physical address, not an individual. If you move locations, your PIN will not remain the same. You can also call the number listed above to obtain a previously assigned PIN.

If a fair has any remaining inventory of NUES tags, they are permitted to use them until they are gone. If a fair decides to disperse the tags, they must continue to keep records on what tag number was provided to the exhibitor, the physical address of where the animal is kept and destination of the pig after the fair. Tags that are currently assigned to a fair may not be transferred to another organization for use. Any unused tags can be picked up by an MDARD staff member by calling 517-284-5686.

USDA 840 tags have a unique 15-digit number beginning with 840, are tamper resistant and bear the U.S. shield. When selecting the type of USDA 840 tags to purchase, it is suggested to use a tag with an electronic identification (EID) option. This allows for fairs and exhibitions to use EID tag readers during their event to easily record animal identification numbers. Manufacturing and shipping times will vary depending on the distributor, and individuals should plan for three to four weeks to receive their tags.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Nick Babcock, Michigan State University Extension 4-H livestock and veterinary science program educator, at 517-432-1626 or babco116@msu.edu or Beth Ferry, MSU Extension pork educator, at 269-876-2745 or franzeli@msu.edu.

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