Official identification tags for exhibition swine experiencing supply chain issues
With the 2023 show season ramping up many show pig breeders and exhibitors with swine projects are getting things ready for an exciting show year. One of the items on the to do checklist includes making sure your animals have the proper identification required for the show(s) or county fairs you plan to attend. The Public Act 466 of the Animal Industry Act requires pigs shown at fairs, exhibitions or shows to have official individual animal identification (ID) for any swine exhibited. This program is managed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).
To comply with this requirement, the exhibitor or owner of the animal will need to acquire the official ID for the animal(s). This can be done by the exhibitor purchasing a pig that has already been tagged with official identification by the breeder or by the exhibitor purchasing official identification tag themselves. Currently, there is no requirement for in state breeders to provide official ID or United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) 840 tags; instead, this is a service the breeder can provide for their customers. If county fairs still have an inventory of previously supplied National Uniform Eartagging System (NUES) tags, those can also be utilized to meet the official identification requirement, if proper documentation of distribution is kept.
For the 2023 show season, some exhibitors have indicated they are having issues sourcing USDA 840 tags for their animals, with shipping potentially taking several weeks or months. In order to address this issue MDARD suggests, if less than 50 tags are needed, exhibitors should consider purchasing official 840 RFID tags from a local Michigan reseller. Local resellers include livestock auction markets and animal feed stores, and many will take orders over the phone and ship tags directly to producers from their stocked inventory. A list of local resellers can be found on MDARD’s website, both as a PDF listing by county and as an interactive map.
If 50 or more tags are needed, a list of online vendors can be found on MDARD’s website as well. Order fulfillment times currently range from two to 16 weeks depending on the manufacturer and the type of tag selected. It is recommended to ask about delivery times before placing an official 840 RFID tag order with an online vendor. Dr. Jennifer Calogero, assistant state veterinarian with MDARD reminds exhibitors, “we are committed to making sure our exhibition agriculture industry has options to meet the regulations stated in Public Act 466 of the Animal Industry Act, while also ensuring the ability of the state to identify and track animals in the instance of a disease outbreak.”
It is also important to know that when ordering official identification tags from a supplier or approved resellers exhibitors must have a Premises Identification Number (PIN) for the location their animals are housed at. If an individual would like to obtain a PIN number, they will need to register their premises with the state of Michigan by calling MDARD at 1-888-565-8626. PINs are assigned to a physical address, not an individual. If a person moves locations, their PIN will not remain the same. You can also call the number listed above to obtain a previously assigned PIN. The PIN number will be the same if you have multiple species on your farm. For example, if you have cattle on your farm and source RFID tags, the PIN number needed to order USDA 840 tags for swine will be the same.
When validating official ID tags for pigs exhibited at an event, show organizers should look for official identification tags. These tags are tamper resistant and bear the U.S. shield. Fairs and exhibitions should accept any form of official identification, such as USDA 840 tags or NUES tags, from their participants. However, it is considered illegal to double tag an animal with two forms of official ID. For example, pigs with existing USDA 840 tags should not be given an additional NUES tag. It is also important to understand that it is illegal to remove any form of official ID from an animal at any given time.
Fairs can require fair specific tags for their swine exhibits along with the requirement for official ID. These non-official management tags are suggested for ease of readability and management of record keeping systems. Tags may be applied by the exhibitor, parent or a responsible party. Fair officials or volunteers may also complete the tagging process if assistance is needed. Please note tag applicators will not work for all tags. If a fair intends to supply tag applicators, they will need to make sure that the equipment will work for various types of USDA 840 tags or have multiple applicators on hand.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to Beth Ferry, Michigan State University Extension pork educator, at 269-876-2745 or by email at email@example.com.