Biosecurity risks associated with current identification practices of producers trading live pigs at livestock sales

M. Hernández-Jover, N. Schembri, J. A L M L Toribio, P. K. Holyoake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Approximately 5% of pigs produced in Australia is believed to be traded at livestock sales. Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted with producers (106 and 30 producers, respectively), who traded pigs at livestock sales. The purpose of the study was to gather information on how producers identified their pigs in order to evaluate how these practices may impact the ability to trace pig movements in the event of an emergency animal disease outbreak or food safety hazard. Results were analyzed according to herd size (0 to 150 sows, 150+ sows) and location (peri-urban, regional) as prior studies suggested a higher biosecurity risk among smaller farms and due to perceptions that peri-urban farms pose additional risk. Most producers (91.5%) had less than 150 sows and a high proportion (70.8%) resided in regional areas compared with only 29.2% residing in peri-urban areas. A higher proportion of large-scale producers identified their pigs than small-scale producers. A third of small-scale producers reported not identifying breeding stock and most did not identify progeny. The most common forms of on-farm identification used were ear tags for breeding stock and ear notches for progeny. Producers identified breeding stock to assist with mating management and genetic improvement. Ear notches were used to determine the litter of origin of progeny. All large-scale producers owned a registered swine brand and used the official body tattoo for post-farm-gate identification. However, approximately 15% of small-scale producers did not own a registered swine brand, and an additional 8% did not identify their pigs post-farm-gate. Producers were satisfied with tattoos as a methodology for post-farm-gate identification of pigs and considered other methodologies cost-prohibitive. However, variations in the maintenance of the branding equipment, the type of ink used and the time of tattoo application in relation to the animal sale were highlighted during focus group discussions. These results suggest that there is a need for education and extension activities, especially among small-scale pig producers, regarding the benefits of identifying animals on-farm. In addition, increased awareness of the traceability legislation that exists in Australia to meet the National Performance Standards for Livestock Traceability in this country is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1692-1699
Number of pages8
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


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