Transporting Animals Across State Lines: Pigs
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Transporting animals across state lines can be confusing at best. Here are some tips to for interstate travel with pigs.
Selling pigs can be fun. It can also be confusing. Knowing all the rules for selling and transporting animals across state lines could be a full-time job because the rules and regulations per state are continually changing. Even when selling within your own state, the regulations can change significantly in 30 days. The best thing to do is to have a good veterinarian who can work with you and let you know if and when the regulations change.
For most states, you can sell pigs within your state without any additional testing, but that varies from state to state. For example, within Wisconsin, a rope test is required to sell pigs from one farm to another within the state. Before selling any pigs from your farm or property, I highly recommend checking with a vet to determine the necessary rules and regulations. Getting a huge monetary fine because of a tagging or testing issue is not what most people want. Losing the ability to raise animals on your property is even worse.
Interstate travel for your pigs has a whole additional set of rules and requirements. Having a veterinarian check over your pigs and do a Certificate of Veterinarian Inspection (CVI) is required when most pigs leave the state where they are located. A CVI is a document ensuring that a Certified Veterinarian has inspected the animal and it is free of any illness, sickness, or congenital defect. Regardless of age or sex, all pigs must have this inspection done unless they go directly to a butcher. Even younger barrows who are destined to eventually be butchered must have a CVI to travel to a new state.
A special and unique identification tag is required per pig and must be listed on the CVI from the veterinarian within 30 days of travel. Multiple pigs can be put onto one CVI, but each must have its own identification number. The federal government implemented a newer tagging system a few years ago, and now the recommended tag of choice for interstate travel is an 840 tag. The 840 tag is a plastic tag that the USDA has approved for official individual animal identification. Each farm or location is directly linked to each of the 840 tags they purchase, and each specific tag can be traced back to both the original owner and the new owner.
840 tags can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some can be personalized with your number added below the 840 number; others are not. Whatever you choose is up to you, but I recommend purchasing the correct tagger that works specifically with your purchased tags.
Steps to Get 840 Tags:
1. Each location (farm) is required to get a Premise Identification Number (PIN) from the state they are located in. Each physical location is required to have its own PIN. This PIN is required in order to purchase official animal identification tags, and to get a PIN for your farm you will need to know what type of operation it is, what the name of the farm or entity is, and the contact information for the location the animals are located. a. A good site to use as a reference for each state’s instructions for obtaining a PIN is https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalhealth/traceability/state -pin/
2. Once your farm has a PIN, you can get your 840 tags. An 840 tag is a 15-digit number starting with 840. Each tag has a unique number and is directly linked with each farm’s PIN. In this way, when a veterinarian does a CVI, they can track the starting and ending points of the animals’ travels.
The government has a record of the farm or person that sold the pig as well as the current owners of each specific pig. 840 tags can be purchased in many locations, including Valley Vet, QC Supply, and many more.
Some states still allow the metal tags that you can get directly from the veterinarian and are based on the state the pig is leaving from and the state the pig is moving to (it does not include the states in between that the pig may travel through to get to its new location). The only way to know the regulations for your pigs to travel is to have your veterinarian check before doing the CVI.
I can not express enough the importance of having a good relationship with your veterinarian. Whether your vet comes directly to your farm or you take your pigs to the vet office, having someone who understands all of the requirements for shipping animals both within your own state as well as to locations outside of your state is going to make everything run much more smoothly and legally. Whether it is a tag directly from the vet or an 840 tag that you are going to use, these tag requirements are just that . . . Requirements. It isn’t up to the seller or the buyer to decide if tags are wanted. It is a federal law — they are needed!
Transporting pigs (and other animals) across state lines without proper identification is a federal offense. Getting the proper identification and health papers from the vet is the responsibility of the seller/breeder, not the buyer. The repercussions of not getting the proper identification and having a CVI to travel is not worth the risk.
Raising and selling animals is both fun and rewarding. A good veterinarian who can help you know and understand the regulations along the way is priceless.
Originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of Countryside and Small Stock Journal and regularly vetted for accuracy.