Premises registration is the identification of a location where livestock are raised, housed, or pass through during commerce. The Premises Identification Number (PIN) is a standardized unique identifier assigned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) after the site is registered through the state.

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Animal identification is the process by which pigs are identified either as part of a group, lot or individually. Individual identification would be required when pigs are commingled with other sources (feeder swine markets, sale barns, cull markets, etc.). For most grow-finish pigs within a production system, a group/lot or premises identification, and for sows/boars an official premises tag when entering the harvest chain, will be adequate animal identification. In most cases, situations requiring the use of official identification tags will not result in the purchase of additional tags over and above what is normally purchased by producers. The USDA and the pork industry have been working with tag manufacturers, distributors and resellers to ensure that producers have the ability to buy compliant production tags that can be applied by the producer as an official form of individual animal identification. Examples include the development of compliant 4-H and FFA tags and compliant sow/boar production tags.


The official identification and traceback of swine in commerce is a regulated process. Since the late 1980s, the U.S. swine industry has had a mandatory system for traceback of swine that have entered into harvest channels to the last farm of ownership. This includes very specific means of identification for market swine and market sows and boars, as laid out in the Federal Code of Regulations.

The Swine ID Plan is an industry initiative to implement a set of program standards for the identification of swine developed in 2004 by the industry to enhance the current federal regulations. There are three key components to implementing the Swine ID Plan – premises identification, animal identification and animal tracing.

Premises Registration is the identification of a location where livestock are raised, housed, or pass through in commerce. The standard PIN, is a seven-character alphanumeric code, with the right-most character being a check digit, which is assigned by the USDA after the site is registered through the state. Nationally, over 95 percent of the estimated swine premises have a standard PIN. This is different than the state PINs which start with the state’s two-letter postal abbreviation followed by the premises’ state-assigned number.

Animal Tracing

Animals can be traced by using the program standards in the Swine ID Plan, which include parameters for an animal movement record to be generated each time one of a set of events occurs, such as moving to new premises or harvest facility. A movement record would include the animal’s or group’s identification number, the PIN of the sending and receiving premises, the date of movement, number of head moved and the reason for movement. Records will be maintained for three years after the swine leave the premises and will be available to animal health officials for inspection.

PIN Tags

The PIN tag is an official USDA-approved identification tag with a unique 7-digit alpha-numeric PIN printed on the front and back panels. 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.

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.

Approved PIN tag suppliers

Destron (800) 328-0118

Allflex (800) 989-8247

Y-Tex (800) 443-6401

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