Pigs: identification, registration and movement
This guidance was withdrawn on
This information is now out of date. For our current guidance please read guidance for keepers of sheep, goats and pigs.
Identification, inspections and record keeping to control pig diseases, by enabling tracing in the event of an outbreak.
Registration, identification, and accurate recording and reporting your pig movements supports traceability, helps to minimise the risk of disease transmission and maximise the possibility of controlling the spread during an outbreak.
Defra has produced a guide for pig keepers explaining the rules for identifying, and recording and reporting their movements. The key requirements are described below.
Whether you keep one pig as a pet or a commercial herd, you need to be registered with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
If you are a new keeper of pigs you must;
- Obtain a County Parish Holding (CPH) number for the land on which you will be keeping them (if you do not already have one) by phoning the Rural Payments Agency Customer Registration Team on 0345 603 7777. Customer registration information on the RPA website. You should let them know then that you will keep livestock.
- Contact the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) to register the fact that you are keeping pigs - within 30 days of them arriving on your holding for the first time. You will be provided with a unique flock or herd mark. It will be shown on official ear tags used to identify your animals. It is stored on the national database which records livestock movements
- The herd mark will be one or two letters followed by a four-digit number, eg A1234 or AB1234. The herd mark is a quick and effective way of identifying the premises that pigs have moved from. It is available to inspectors for rapid tracing.
In addition to registration with AHVLA, you will also have to apply to the Environment Agency for an environmental permit if your livestock capacity exceeds:
- 750 sows
- 2,000 production pigs over 30 kilograms
You can find the detail on how to apply for an intensive pig farming permit on the Environment Agency website.
You must keep all records relating to pigkeeping - including registration, identification and movement - for a period of three years.
Identification of pigs
Pig identification and traceability are central to disease control. This is why all of your pigs must be marked with your unique herd mark.
You must pre-notify all movement of pigs from your holding.
Before they are moved off your holding, pigs must also have the herd mark applied by one of the following means:
- slapmark - a permanent ink mark of your herd mark, applied to each front shoulder area of the pig
- eartag - stamped or printed, not handwritten, containing the letters ‘UK’ followed by your herd mark
- tattoo - of your herd mark on the ear of the pig, including the use of compressed air to drive tattooing pins into the skin of pigs provided the tattoo is easy to read
- temporary paint mark, eg a red line, black cross or blue circle, which must last until the pig reaches its destination
All pigs going to slaughter must be identified with their herd mark. All pigs over one year old moving to another holding, a collection centre, a market or for breeding must also be identified with a herd mark. If you import pigs from outside the European Union, you no longer have to apply a new identification mark if you are moving the animal directly to a slaughterhouse for slaughter within 30 days of arrival.
- Slapmarking equipment manufacturers (PDF, 546KB, 3 pages)
You can also read more about the identification of pigs in disease prevention and pig welfare.
Pre-notification of pigs before movement from a holding
You must pre-notify all movements of pigs from their holdings before you move them. You can do so in a number of ways:
- Online: Electronic licence to report pig movements (eAML2)
- Email or phone: eAML2 helpline: firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone: 0844 335 8400, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Calls cost 5p per minute from landlines. They can produce and send you the haulier summary or movement document which must accompany your animals.
You must not use the old paper AML2 form to report your pig moves.
The only exception to pre-notification is for a move to a market where the market has agreed in advance they will record both the move off your farm for you, and the move into the(ir) market, on the same day. Your pigs must still be accompanied by a paper copy of the haulier summary/movement document.
Pet pigs which are walked must have a walking licence. This must be obtained in advance from your local AHVLA office.
Whenever you move pigs, you must follow the conditions of the General Licence for the Movement of Pigs.
On farm records – Holding Register
This can be kept in a simple format, explained in a guide for pig keepers.
Once you move pigs onto your holding, you cannot move any other pigs off it for 20 days. You must also wait six days before you can remove any cattle, sheep or goats from the holding. There are exceptions to this rule for animals going to slaughter, slaughter market or a slaughter collection centre. There are further exceptions for show or breeding animals subject to use of approved isolation facilities. If you move cattle, sheep or goats onto the holding, then you cannot move the pigs off it for six days.
This ‘standstill’ acts as an incubation period and slows down the potential spread of disease. There are some exemptions and exceptions, eg pig breeding pyramids or commercial pig pyramids. To apply to become an approved herd within a pig breeding pyramid, you should contact your local divisional veterinary manager.
Cross Compliance - Pig identification and registration (SMR6)
If you keep pigs identifying them correctly and keeping accurate on farm records is a condition of payment under the Single Payment Scheme (SPS) under EU cross compliance rules. Statutory Management Requirement (SMR) 6 summarizes the requirements.
Download SMR 6 - pig identification and registration from the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) website.
Advice for owners of pet pigs and micro pigs - Pet pigs which will be returned immediately to the premises they are moved from must be moved in accordance with a walking licence issued by the local AHVLA office.
MLCSL eAML2 Helpline
0844 335 8400
Defra Livestock Identification Helpline
0845 050 9876
Cross Compliance Helpline
0345 345 1302
RPA Customer Service Centre
0345 603 7777
03459 33 55 77
Published: 10 September 2012
Updated: 19 April 2013
- Routine update to a wide variety of details
- Updated with guidance, legislation and publications from Defra website.
- First published.