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Agricultural News

Showing Swine this Year? State Vet Rod Hall Advises Exhibitors on Proper Ear-Tagging Procedures

Wed, 23 May 2018 12:33:03 CDT

Showing Swine this Year? State Vet Rod Hall Advises Exhibitors on Proper Ear-Tagging Procedures OSU Extension educators, ag educators, exhibitors, and veterinarians who will be dealing with show swine during the upcoming summer and fall show season should be aware of the following information, provided by State Veterinarian Rod Hall. Below, Dr. Hall addresses some common issues related to problems with ear tags falling out or getting infected in the past.

According to Hall, all pigs that are tested after June 1, 2018 must have an electronic 840 tag applied when they are tested. Make sure when you order tags that they are electronic 840 tags. 840 is the first three numbers of official USDA tags. Tags that begin with numbers that are not 840 are not official tags. Tulsa State Fair tags will be electronic but will not be 840 Official tags.

Hall encourages all veterinarians who work with swine exhibitors to purchase and have on hand some of the proper tags, as not all exhibitors will have tags through their 4-H or FFA group.

There are three things that cause problems with tag retention.

1. Improper Placement – it’s best to place the tag as deep in the ear as possible without putting pressure on the cartilage ribs.

2. Improper applicator for the tag used – different tags require different applicators. Look further down this message for recommendations.

3. Infection - infection causes itching and tags start to get hung up on fence anywhere where the animal rubs. Disinfection of the tags and ear prior to application will prevent some of this.

Based on a colleague’s experience, who tested and tagged 2,000 swine last winter with only 5-6 tags actually coming out - two of which were removed because of infection - Hall recommends using an Allflex HDX 840 Official RFID Button Tag. These tags are a little more expensive (about $2.75 per tag) than some others but have shown to be very effective. Allflex also has an FDX 840 Official RFID Button Tag that is less expensive. Both tags may be applied with the Allflex Universal Total tagger with the black insert removed or the EID Ultra Retract-O-Matic. The small arrow on the tag should point up to keep from damaging the microchip in the tag. Hall suggests watching the videos linked below for instruction on proper applicator usage and tag placement.

Handlers should never use buttons that are a different brand or that are purchased separately from the ID portion of the tag. This can result in the tags not fitting properly and may lead to the male portion slipping out of the female portion of the tag. The ID portion (thicker part) of the tag should be on the inside of the ear.

Infection is more of a problem in show animals than in other livestock because they are kept up in confined spaces where there is a greater chance of contact with bacteria. Handlers might consider spraying a disinfectant like Chlorhexidine on the tag prior to application or dip it in a small container of chlorhexidine.

Please remember that the Tulsa State Fair’s tags this fall and OYE’s tags next spring will not be 840 tags. An 840 tag must be applied either before the blood sample is taken for PRV and Brucellosis or at the time of the sampling. Individual exhibitors may purchase electronic 840 tags for their pigs using their Premises ID Number, but in most cases the tags will have been purchased by an Ag Chapter, a County Association, or by the veterinarian. Tags from any of these sources are acceptable as official ID as long as they are electronic tags that start with 840. The veterinarian should record the 840 tag number as well as the ear notches of the pig along with the PIN of the exhibitor on the test chart.

If a pig already has an 840 tag (if it was purchased in another state or at a sale such as Fall Classic) do not remove that tag. It must be used as the official ID for the pig. Counties that use the official ID for their nominations must use the tag that is already in the pig. It cannot be removed and replaced with a County tag.

Most microchip readers in veterinary clinics will read the 840 number chip in the tags. Several veterinarians have used this method to be able to see the tag number more easily. More and more people are purchasing wands or readers that make reading the tags easier. Hall says his department is planning to purchase some fairly inexpensive reading equipment that he hopes will make it easier and more economical for veterinarians and/or producers to read and record information.

The videos below will help you understand the proper way to apply the tags.

This video discusses the tag applicator and how to properly load the tag.

This video discusses the proper placement of the tag.

This link is to several videos about tagging livestock that may be of interest.

“I’m convinced that taking the time to apply tags properly will result in many fewer issues with lost tags, so I appreciate you taking the time to correctly apply the tags,” Hall remarked. “Thanks, and give us a call if you have questions.”
To contact Dr. Hall’s office, call 405-522-0270 or email rod.hall@ag.ok.gov.

Source – State Veterinarian Rod Hall, DVM



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