Swine identification requirements

By Dr. Amber Itle, State Veterinarian

As a port state, our Washington swine herds are under persistent threats of economically devastating foreign animal diseases such as African Swine Fever that has killed 25% of the global pig population in recent years.  Our domestic exhibition pigs are also at higher risk of becoming infected with swine influenza viruses that can reassort and become a public health threat to exhibitors and the public alike.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has worked hard over the past several years to build a robust animal disease traceability program in Washington, especially at points of commingling where there is increased risk of disease transmission. It is estimated that 15,000 pigs participate in fairs and exhibitions across the state each year. The use of official individual identification is critical for animal diseases traceability.  Being able to locate and trace individual animals allows for rapid response and avoids prolonged quarantines that could interfere with business continuity for your fair.

WSDA conducted rulemaking last year to change the regulations in chapter 16-80 WAC, Domestic and Feral Swine in Washington State. All swine that leave the farm or origin or move through a public livestock market or collection facility and all exhibition swine, must have official USDA-approved identification. Swine that come in from out of state should already have official USDA approved identification per our import regulations in WAC 16-54-111.

WSDA educated fairs and youth exhibitors about this requirement last fair season and have utilized social media as well as other communication methods to continue to spread the word about this requirement. Communication has included the benefits of utilizing official identification and the importance of animal disease traceability. We ask you again to distribute this information widely to your 4-H and FFA leaders, swine superintendents, and exhibitors as well as include this information in your fair handbook for exhibitors.

We have a supply of electronic official USDA-approved identification tags and applicators to provide to fairs and youth swine exhibitors for FREE! To get your free tags, please contact our animal disease traceability coordinator, David Hecimovich, by phone at (360) 725-5493 or by email at dhecimovich@agr.wa.gov

Thank you for your partnership in building a robust disease traceability system in WA. Your role is critical as you educate and support youth, promote animal agriculture to the public, and help us protect the economic viability of agriculture in our communities.

If you have any questions, please contact

Dr. Amber Itle, State Veterinarian
(360) 961-4129
Email aitle@agr.wa.gov