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Tagging threat is deferred

by 5m Editor
25 July 2003, at 12:00am

UK - A controversial rule that would force pig producers to tag all pigs being moved off their holding of birth, other than for slaughter, has been put on hold by Defra.

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This doesn't mean tagging has gone away, stresses NPA regional manager Ian Campbell, "but it does give both Defra and us breathing space to consider how we as an industry can have robust movement controls without widespread tagging."

In order to comply with EU rules Defra had wanted all pigs in non-slaughter movements to be tagged. NPA has argued this would be taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut particularly as so many of Britain's weaners are produced outside where tagging is dangerous to pigmen and distressing to pigs, and would inevitably exacerbate PMWS.

Following talks with minister Eliot Morley there is now an acceptance by Defra that it might be possible to exempt recognised pyramid movements from tagging, as long as suitable measures are in place to ensure the pigs really are traceable.

'The detail has to be considered very carefully," said Ian Campbell. "Defra need to be sure of their ground when applying derogations."

Now that some breathing space has been achieved, he would like to see all producers think carefully about how herd-of-birth identification can be maintained by means other than tagging.

'NPA have made it very clear to Defra that the industry has a major interest in robust controls on livestock movements but cannot support measures that compromise health and welfare and at the same time add little to traceability,' he said.

"It is entirely reasonable to exclude recognised pyramid movements from tagging as long as suitable protocols are drawn up and followed."

Meanwhile some other aspects of Defra's PRIMO review will come into effect in November as originally planned.

All pigs under one year of age moving direct to slaughter and all pigs over one year of age moving to any destination must be identified with a slapmark on each shoulder area of the pig.

The slapmark will be the herdmark allocated by Defra. There will be no specifications as to size of the slapmark, but it is important that slapmarks are legible.

As an alternative producers may identify pigs with an eartag or tattoo containing the Defra herdmark. Pigs going to slaughter must have a heat resistant eartag, preferably metal.

For movements between holdings of pigs under one year producers may continue using a temporary paintmark which must last at least until the pig reaches its destination.

Source: National Pig Association - By Digby Scott - 24th July 2003

5m Editor