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NPA sniffs victory over tagging

by 5m Editor
8 January 2003, at 12:00am

UK - There are increasing signs from government that it will not now insist, in its current review of PRIMO movement rules, that all pigs moving, other than directly to slaughter, be holding-of-birth tagged: movements within identified pyramids may be exe

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Animal health minister Elliot Morley has sent clear signals to this effect to North Lincolnshire producer John Godfrey.

However Ian Campbell, NPA's champion on PRIMO issues, is not counting his chickens. "Defra appear to have entered listening mode but until the deal is done we must keep up our efforts to convince them that tagging pigs for movements in pyramids is impracticable and unnecessary," he said.

In recent weeks Defra have argued that tagging, or some similar form of "permanent" identification, is an EU requirement. However NPA have pointed out that tagging the indoor herds of continental producers is easier than tagging many thousands of outdoor pigs in East Anglia.

In any case, tagging is by no means universal in other EU countries. In Southern Ireland, for instance, derogation has been given for movements within pyramids as long as the pigs are slapped with their official herd number. Furthermore even that slap becomes voluntary where ownership remains the same and the farm-to-farm move is very local

In passing, it is interesting to note that the Irish bureaucratic mind is not so different from its British equivalent as one might expect. The official Irish herd mark is a letter to indicate county, three numbers to identify the herd, and a "Z" to denote that the animals are pigs.

Originally the slap mark faithfully required the inclusion of the Z, but this has since been dropped with the discovery that Ministry vets can differentiate between a cow and a pig.

In Denmark, meanwhile, the chief rule is that all pigs must be marked with an approved ear tag before they leave their herd of birth - but there are important exceptions which serve to strengthen NPA's case to Defra; chiefly: pigs that are tattooed on the leg and transported directly to slaughter; pigs that are transported directly to destruction; batches of pigs that are transported within multi-site systems; and batches of pigs that are transported according to a definite registered agreement between seller and purchaser.

Source: National Pig Association - 8th January 2003

5m Editor