PIN Tag Frequently Asked Questions

If you do not have a premises Identification number (PIN) then click here to learn more about the PIN registration process.

A list of approved tag suppliers is available here.

Official USDA Backtag

Through normal business practices, sows and boars entering harvest channels are often commingled, sorted and shipped to  harvest with animals from other sources. Effective pre-harvest traceability requires that each animal be individually identified to the owner and source premises. This task is currently delivered using an official USDA backtag which is linked to the owner who provides the source premises if a traceback is necessary. As the industry continues to implement the Swine ID Plan, individual identification of breeding stock will transition to the use of official eartags called premises identification number (PIN) tags.

Because of the improved retention of these tags on breeding stock, pre-harvest traceability will be enhanced and better satisfy requirements from domestic and international customers. The PIN tag will improve industry-supported swine disease surveillance programs and enhance our ability to detect and contain diseases more quickly.

Improving the speed, efficiency and accuracy of tracebacks and the support of a more comprehensive and effective swine disease surveillance program are critical components of maintaining and expanding international markets which, in 2008, gave producers an additional $40.14 per head marketed.

Understanding the value of PIN Tags          PIN Tags for breeding stock

The PIN tag

The premises identification number (PIN) tag, is an official USDA-approved identification tag with a unique 7 digit alpha-numeric PIN printed on the front and back panels. The PIN is printed on the back panel in barcode form. The tag has an official U.S. shield visible on the front panel and on the button. Currently, PIN tags may be purchased by producers as a visual tag, with or without customizable production numbers. As with the USDA backtag applied at markets, the PIN tag will be collected as the official form of identification to be associated with any blood or tissue samples collected for disease surveillance.

Pin Tag

How do I use PIN tags?

Because the PIN tag has a very specific use, the PIN of the premises where the sow or boar was kept immediately prior to entering harvest channels should be the PIN imprinted on the tag accompanying the animal. The tag must be inserted into the ear of the sows or boars by the producer before they are moved into harvest channels. Technically this means that breeding gilts, sows and boars moving within a production system do not have to be identified with the PIN tag until they move out of the system.

Producers can order PIN tags with or without production numbers, which allows for flexibility on how the tags are used in the production system. Some producers are ordering the PIN tags with a series of production numbers and using the tags as production tags. Others are keeping a supply of PIN tags without production numbers to place in the ear prior to shipment. Even when choosing to use the PIN tags with the production numbers it is advised to have a supply of PIN tags without a production number in the event that a PIN tag is lost.

How do I order PIN tags?

The first step is to register the breeding farm premises with your state animal health official and receive your assigned premises identification number (PIN).

Once your premises is registered, contact an approved tag supplier and provide them with your 7 digit PIN(s) and site location. Inform them you want to purchase the official PIN tags for slaughter swine and the type (with or without the production number series) and quantity of tags desired. The PIN supplied for each breeding farm will be verified, and the official PIN tag can be purchased.

A list of approved tag suppliers is available here.