The keeping and movement of pigs

This advice is designed to provide basic guidance to traders. It is not a complete or authoritative statement of the law. Please note that some of the advice we provide to businesses is chargeable.

The Pigs (Records, Identification and Movement) Order 2011 came into force on 1 October 2011 and revokes and replaces earlier legislation.

Holdings and herd marks

There is a continuing need for pig holdings to be registered with DEFRA. If you have not received the industry produced guidance then it may be because you are not registered. You must also notify DEFRA if there are any changes, i.e. you change address or you cease keeping pigs. To register or to notify any changes phone Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) on 03000 200 301. Registration and changes must be notified within one month.

When you register DEFRA (APHA) will also issue you with a unique pig herdmark. If this has not already been obtained then you should contact the office immediately.

Movement records

There is a continuing need to record movements. Records must be completed within 36 hours of any movement and must be kept for at least three years.

You must record the herd mark & individual number if the pigs are being moved:

  • to a show or exhibition
  • for breeding purposes if there is the intention of them returning home
  • for the collection of semen at a porcine semen centre
  • for export purposes

Otherwise you must record either the temporary mark used or the herdmark depending on the movement.

At east once a year you must record the maximum number of pigs normally present on the holding.


Prior to any movement a pig must be correctly identified. Apart from the exemptions shown below the identification shall be by way of an eartag, tattoo or slapmark. This identification is required to be given on any movement documents or record.

An eartag must show the letters 'UK' followed by the herdmark of the holding from which moved. An individual number will also need to be included where pigs are being moved for export, or to a show or exhibition, or for breeding where there is an intention to return the pig home, or for semen collection. Additionally eartags shall be:

  • easy to read during the pigs' lifetime
  • made of metal or plastic or a combination of these
  • tamper resistant
  • incapable of re-use
  • sufficiently heat resistant to ensure legibility throughout the slaughter process
  • designed so that it remains attached to the pig and is not harmful to its welfare

Tattoos must be applied in an ear using tattoo forceps. The tattoo must show the herdmark (and an individual number in the circumstances shown above). It must also include the letters 'UK' if the pig is to be exported.

If you elect to use a slapmark then this must be applied to both shoulders.

As an alternative keepers may apply a tattoo to each shoulder using compressed air equipment.

Keepers are allowed to apply further marks provided this does not affect the readability of the main mark.

Pigs less than one year old can be moved using a temporary mark. This mark must remain legible for the duration of the journey and must be recorded (as with eartags, tattoos & slapmarks) on the movement document. Temporary marks cannot be used where the movement is to a market, or to a slaughterhouse, or for export, or for breeding, or if being moved for semen collection. In these situations tags or tattoos must be used.

Remember if you have a pig that has been eartagged, tattooed or slap marked by someone else then you must remark it with your own identification prior to movement.


Keepers are required to notify the British Pig Executive (BPEX) prior to any movement of pigs from their premises. This may be done through the electronic pig movement service web site.

Alternatively you can either telephone or write to MLCSL who will then provide you with the documentation necessary. You cannot move the pigs until you have received the documentation from MLCSL.

Meat and Livestock Commercial Services Ltd
Stoneleigh Park
Warwickshire CV8 2TL

Phone 0844 335 8400
Fax 0247 669 2405

You will need to provide:

  • originating premises -  address, postcode and the CPH numbers for the originating and destination premises
  • date of movement
  • number of pigs to be moved
  • identification marks to be used

Markets/collection centres

Keepers moving pigs to such premises need not notify the movement in advance providing the market/collection centre agrees to notify BPEX upon arrival of the pigs.

Veterinary surgeons

Keepers moving a pig for emergency treatment at a veterinary practice need not notify the anyone of the movement.


Keepers moving their pigs to a show must also report, at the same time, when the pigs are to be returned home. If a keeper does not know which holding the pigs will be returned to then the movement must be retrospectively reported. This must be done within three days.

Transport of pigs

Persons transporting pigs must carry a document that specifies:

  • addresses of the departure and destination premises, including post codes and CPH numbers
  • date of movement
  • number of pigs being transported
  • identification marks used
  • market Lot number(s), if appropriate

If the keeper at the destination premises is not able to electronically notify BPEX of the movement then the transporter must give the keeper two copies of the transport document. The keeper at the destination premises must keep this document for six months.

The keeper at the destination premises must report arrivals of pig within three days.

The report may be made electronically to BPEX, or by telephone, post or fax to MLCSL.

Pet pigs

If you want to take your pet pig for a walk then a walking licence is available from the APHA - phone 03000 200 301. When walking pigs a copy of this licence must be carried.

Approved holdings

DEFRA will continue to approve weaner/breeder/fattening pyramids.

Removal and replacement of identification marks

No person shall remove an identification mark unless authorised so to do by the Secretary of State. If you have to replace an identification mark because it has become illegible, or has been removed for welfare purposes, or has been lost, then it shall be replaced by either:

  • an identical identification mark
  • a new identification mark which is cross referenced with the original in your records
Production of records

There continues to be a requirement for you to produce your records for examination by a local authority inspector.

Further information is available on the DEFRA website.

Remember, identification marks must be legible.

Feed restrictions

It is an offence to feed livestock with waste meat, eggs etc ('swill' or catering waste, including from domestic kitchens) or to allow livestock access to such products.