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PIN Tags Help Focus Surveillance Efforts

swine ear tagsImagine if the management tags you use for your sows or boars benefited the pork industry by better targeting surveillance for pseudorabies and swine brucellosis in harvest channels. This could become a reality, thanks to a premises identification number (PIN) tag pilot program.

The Pork Checkoff, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the National Pork Producers Council, USDA’s Veterinary Services and producers and state veterinarians in Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota, cooperated on the pilot program, which
focused on the official PIN tag approved by USDA in 2008.
The pork industry has urged adoption of the tags to improve pre-harvest traceability and to benefit national swine disease surveillance programming.

“With early adoption of the tags by various production systems, a pilot program could be conducted to test their application for disease surveillance,” said Jim Niewold a producer from Loda Ill., and member of the Checkoff’s Swine Health Committee and Swine ID Implementation Task Force.

Targeted surveillance helps save money
After the pilot was approved, USDA’s National Surveillance Unit (NSU) became a secure hub for information sharing. States provided the counties associated with swine premises, and USDA Wildlife Services provided a list of counties with feral swine. Using PINs from official tags coferal pigsllected at harvest, the NSU then cross-referenced the lists to determine the presence of feral swine.

“Feral swine represent a high risk for disease reintroduction, so samples from sows in counties with these animals are more valuable to test,” said Dr. Patrick Webb, director of swine health programs for the Pork Checkoff.

He noted that early detection and proving freedom from these diseases in the commercial herd has always been a priority. “But previously, disease surveillance in harvest channels focused only on broad coverage of sows and boars,” Webb said. “This has led to oversampling. The tags allow for USDA to target surveillance to save money that can be better spent on other industry priorities.”

Program offers multiple benefits
The pilot program showed that with cooperation between various USDA program areas and states, targeted risk-based surveillance for pseudorabies and swine brucellosis can be achieved in harvest channels.

“We’ve worked hard to eradicate these diseases from the commercial herd, but their presence in feral swine still presents a risk,” said Wathina Luthi, a pork producer from Gage, Okla., and member of the National Pork Board. “Moving forward with the implementation of these tags provides an opportunity to target surveillance, better detect diseases earlier and protect our markets.”


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