NCSU Extension Swine Husbandry 2005

A more printable version of Swine News in Adobe Acrobat.

February, 2005 . Volume 28, Number 01


Editor's note: At the recent (November 2004) Swine Disease Conference for Swine Practitioners, College of Veterinary Medicine, Ames, Iowa, Dr. Jim McKean presented on the National Animal Identification Plan. His full lecture is available in the proceedings.

—Submitted by W.E. Morgan Morrow


—By James D. McKean, DVM, JD, PhD
Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine
Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

The United States Animal Identification Plan (USAIP) has been developed through the efforts of a multi-species collaboration between state and Federal regulators and private business interests devoted to strengthening the economic vitality of American animal agriculture. This effort crystallized in 2002 from the workings of a National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) taskforce that was comprised of over 100 individuals and 70 associations, governmental bodies, and private businesses. The primary goal for the USAIP is to enable tracing of an animal disease condition within 48 hours of detection. This activity is imperative to ensure proper containment, control of movement, regionalization of the country to minimize trade impacts, and identification of scope and elimination of disease threats. The USAIP has been submitted to USDA-APHIS for implementation, and is now denominated the National Animal Identification System (NAIS). Phase I of the program, national premises identification and registry is being implemented at the current time.

The USAIP was developed by the adoption of a series of collective and species-specific recommendations formulated into a comprehensive and practical national action plan. Because of differences in diseases concern (i.e., presence/absence of TSEs), life cycle durations, animal movement practices, and industry differences species-specific implementation plans were developed from the basic framework. A goal was to use state-of-the-art technologies, to move toward all-electronic recording and reporting, and to conform with national and international reporting and equipment standards, while encouraging innovation and new technologies development. The long-term goals are to develop and implement a comprehensive and workable electronic system that will trace individual animals or group movements throughout their lives. This information would enable tracing of exposed animals, their contacts, and premises forward and backward within the 48 hours' time. The components of the program can be generally attributed to the following standardized characteristics: premises definition and uniform identification system, group and individual animal identification numbering system, uniform identification of non-production participants, and information to be reported to the NAIS database.

The creation of an acceptable multi-species and national premises definition was a major hurdle. The overarching goal was to identify and describe physical locations where food animals were housed or food animal-related activities took place to enable regulatory officials to find potentially exposed premises and livestock and to track animal movement within the 48-hour time frame. Premises included livestock, poultry and aquaculture production facilities, collection points, markets, abattoirs, fair and exhibition facilities, and non-producer participant premises such as veterinary clinics/hospital, records database companies, tag manufacturers and distributors, animal health officials, and diagnostic laboratories that may interact with the NAIS. The current operational definition of a premises is:

"A premises is an identifiable physical location that, in the judgment of the State Animal Health Official or Area Veterinarian in Charge, and when appropriate in consultation with the affected producer, represents a unique and describable geographic entity (where activity affecting the health and/or traceability of food producing animals may occur) or represents the producer contact location when extensive grazing operations exist."

This definition requires that there be a describable geographic entity or animal handling property to constitute a premises. Distance between premises and other epidemiologic criteria that constitute premises definition resided under the purview of the State Animal Health Official for the resident state. Livestock buildings, feedlots, collection points, markets, abattoirs, and veterinary clinics/hospitals easily meet these criteria. For the grazing operations it was determined that rather than report all movements and transitory locations where livestock might he held, the tracing functions would best be satisfied by contacting the owner/manager of the operation where records and other information about animal locations and movements could be immediately available to animal health officials. This location would most likely be the ranch house or other business site. The key is to identify a location where a contact person will be available to provide investigators with information about animal movement and history in a timely manner. The goal is to be able to trace forward and backward one link in the chain in less than 48 hours.

The premises descriptor is the common denominator for all actions within the USAIP The premise and reporting system is NOT owner based, although that perception is not uncommon among certain producer groups. A premises may house multiple species or may have animals with multiple ownership within a single geographical confines. Premises will he identified and basic information about the location, postal codes, and contact person information that will he transmitted by the State Animal Health Official to a national premises allocator system operated by USDA-APHIS. This electronic system will receive the required location information, check for duplication and for concurrence with a valid postal address. After confirmation, the allocator issues a unique seven (7) character alphanumeric string for each premises. This string then becomes the unique identification for that premises which can be used on animal movement records, health papers, submissions to diagnostic laboratories, and other animal health-related reports. In this respect, it will have similar functions to the Iowa premises identification codes used in the PRV-eradication program. But because it is a unique national character string without state identifiers, there will he no geographic connection apparent in the character string (i.e., two very similar strings may identify a dairy premises in California and a multi-species premises in Vermont but will not be visually distinctive).

Under the USAIP all animals must be identified upon movement from the premises of birth, either individually or be part of an identifiable group for movement. Individual identification with visual or electronic (RFID) tags has been selected by the ruminant industries because of the animalís longer life span, presence of chronic diseases (i.e., TSEs), and accepted industry animal movement practices. Swine, poultry; and potentially aquaculture prefer the use of group identification practices. Since 1988, all swine in interstate commerce have been required to be identified at the point of first concentration under 9 CFR 71.19, so swine have a regulatory identification requirement in place. Except for applicable interstate and specific state and the sheep scrapie program requirements, animal ID in other species is limited. Within the past several years the swine identification requirement has been modified for approved routine movements of swine with in/between production systems. Therefore, individual identification is the default requirement in swine that do not meet group requirements, but that is not true in other species.

With that background, the Pork Industry Working Group of the USAIP devised systems for group movement consistent with industry practices and federal movement requirements. In all cases movements into and out (including mortalities) of the group were to be recorded (business records) at the production level, but only reported to officials in the case of an animal health investigation. Animals that moved out of these established groups other than to harvest could be required to be individually identified under 9 CFR 71.19. This strategy places the responsibility of maintaining the tracing information on the producer and his/her business records, not on a large (database at the state or federal level. A uniform system of group identification was proposed to enable consistent reporting. This character string was to be the premises ID at the premises where the group was formed and the date of formation. Producers were to assign these group designations and designate when the group was formed and closed.

Two group structures were defined-static and dynamic. Through the establishment of these two reporting/records systems, most swine producers can avoid the requirement of individual animal identification for the majority of their production. Static groups are those that are formed at weaning and move through the system as a stable cohort. The group is cohort-based rather than location-based. They may reside in one location (wean-finish) or several (nursery, grower, finisher) as they move through the production system, but the group remains intact throughout, and under the original group ID. Figure 1 demonstrates a static group system. Swine held as part of an All-In/All-Out group are the prototypical model for static groups. The two sow herds (01A3457 and 01A3783) supply weaned pigs to the group formed as 01A4682031104 at premises 0IA4682. Swine originating in a static group can be subdivided once (i.e., moved from one nursery to two or more finishers), to a cull facility, or harvest without individual identification as demonstrated. This movement without renaming the group is possible because a unique chain of reporting for the cohort history can he maintained at each premises to facilitate forward and backward tracing.

The dynamic group is premise-based rather than a cohort-based construct. It is formed by placing swine into the established premises and is limited to one premises site. In this case the group number assigned is the premises location and the date the premises was initiated. This difference is required because the group does not routinely "close-outĒ as do the static groups. Swine may move from a dynamic group to harvest or are required to be individually identified. Figure 2 demonstrates a dynamic group system that approximates a cull pig facility (OIA-4591) which was originally populated in 01/01/I999. Sites 01A4999, OlA4647, and 0IA4697 supply this facility, and all movements from this premises will be denominated as from premises 01A4591 and group number 0IA45910101999. Movement records must be maintained for all groups/individuals entering/leaving this group. Breed-weaning, single-site continuous-flow farrow-to-finish, and cull animal sites are the expected candidates for dynamic group designations.

The working group has further recommended that distinctly colored ear tags (either RFID or visual) with the premises ID of the breeding herd be required for all cull breeding stock at point of first concentration. This action would negate the need for backtagging of the premise IDed culls. These ear tags could also include an individual identification number for the producer to use in maintenance of individual production information. This recommendation is based on an understanding that breeding stock are brought into a single premises (dynamic group) and remain for their productive lifetimes. The production unit would maintain information about entry and exit of swine as described earlier for a dynamic group. When the animal is offered for harvest it would be identified back to the premises where it had resided for that productive life. If individual swine were removed for purposes other than movement to harvest they would be required to be individually identified to the premises consistent with 9 CER 71.19

Purebred breeding stock and show pigs would be individually identified under this proposal with approved identification systems under 9 CUR 71.19 (registered ear notches or tattoos and approved visual or RFID ear tags). The proposed system would require that fairs and exhibitions capture the premises and movement data for all swine and report to the appropriate State Animal Health Official. As with much of the NAIS, currently these systems are under development and mechanisms for recording and reporting are being refined, but this structure is the expected outcome.

How Should Practitioners Become Involved?
Swine practitioners should familiarize themselves with the NAIS plan as outlined above and understand the differences between species-swine primarily group and ruminantsí individual animal ID. Additional information is available at or Because this program is new and dynamic in application, periodic visits to these Web sites may be helpful in keeping abreast of the program roll-out.

The initial program thrust will be to establish premises ID for all production facilities and ancillary (non-production participants) businesses-veterinary clinics, sale barns, abattoirs concentration points, etc. Additional educational efforts will be forthcoming to recruit livestock and non-production participants. Assistance and encouragement to producers in filing these materials with the State Veterinarianís office as requested and registering your veterinary clinic would be a great assistance to this effort.


1. United States Animal Identification Plan., 2004.

2. Identification of swine in interstate commerce. 9 CFR 71.19, 2004.


The following breeders with validated herds have tested animals in the past 30 days.

Breeder Address Breeds
Bob Ivey* 314 N.C. 111 S, Goldsboro 27530 L, D, Y, CW
Wesley Looper* 4695 Petra Mill Rd., Granite Falls 28630 Y, L, H, D, X
Thad Sharp, Jr., & Sons 5171 N.C. 581 Hwy., Sims 2788030 Y, D, X
Thomas Farms 8251 Oxford Rd., Timberlake 27583 X
Tidewater Research Farm* 207 Research Station Road, Plymouth 27962 X
*Real-Time Ultrasound

—Frank Hollowell, David Lee

Number of accesses to this file:
Last modified July 1, 2005.