Pig identification and traceability are integral to both disease control and maintaining consumer confidence in British produce. For this reason there are required standards for identifying and controls over the movement of pigs to prevent and trace the spread of any disease.

The sections below provide details on some of the key requirements in pig identification and movement, covering:

Registering new herds

Whether you keep one animal as a pet or a commercial herd you need to register your pigs. Before moving livestock to your holding you need to apply for a County Parish Holding (CPH) number for the land where the livestock will be kept.

Once you have your CPH you can move the livestock to your holding if they comply with the conditions of the General Licence for the Movement of Pigs and its annex A-C (PDF 54KB) and annex D (PDF 36KB). Next contact your local AHVLA Field Service to register as a livestock keeper. Your local AHVLA Office will need to register your stock and send keepers a registration document containing your personal details, CPH number and a unique Defra herd mark.

Further information

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The following identification requirements apply to all pigs over 12 months of age, as well as those moving to markets and slaughterhouses:

  • All pigs over 12 months of age need to be identified using a herdmark.
  • All pigs, regardless of age, moving to a market are required to be permanently identified, regardless of whether their onward move is to slaughter or another holding. Permanent identification can be by either an ear tag, a tattoo, or a double slapmark (see below for more details)
  • Pigs going to slaughter must use an ear tag capable of surviving the processing of the carcase following slaughter. If you are in any doubt about this you will need to check with your ear tag supplier regarding your ear tag specifications
  • Pigs less than 12 months old may be moved between holdings using a temporary paint mark (see below) which must last at least until a pig reaches its destination

Ear tags must be:

  • Sufficiently heat resistant that neither the ear tag, nor the information printed or stamped on it, can be damaged by the processing of the carcase following slaughter
  • Contains the letters the letters ‘UK’ followed by your herdmark for example UK AB 1234
  • Easy to read during the pigs lifetime
  • Tags must be made of metal or plastic or a combination of metal and plastic
  • Tamper-resistant
  • Incapable of re-use
  • Of a design that will remain attached to the pig without harming the animal

Tattoos must:

  • Show the herdmark on the animal’s ear e.g. AB 1234 (the letters ‘UK’ are not required)
  • Must be legible for the life of the pig


  • A slapmark is a permanent ink mark of the herdmark e.g. AB 1234 (the letters ‘UK’ are not required) applied on each front shoulder area
  • Slapmarks must be legible on each shoulder area of the pig for the life of the pig and throughout the processing of its carcase

When ordering slapmarking equipment it is important that manufacturers are supplied with the correct herdmark details. Details of slapmarking manufacturers.

Temporary marks must be:

  • Paint marking on the pig, for example, a red line, black cross or blue circle
  • Able to last until the pig reaches its destination
  • Combined with the movement document the temporary mark identifies the holding from which

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Recording movements

At least once a year, keepers are required to record the number of pigs kept on a premises. These records must be kept for six years.

All movements of pigs onto and off of a holding must be recorded, noting the date of the movement, the identification mark on the pigs, the number of pigs moved and the address of the holding the pigs moved to or from. Records must be retained for six years.


Pig movements will usually take place under the conditions of the General Licence for the Movement of Pigs and its annex A-C (PDF 54KB) and annex D (PDF 36KB) and must be accompanied by the movement document AML2.

Since 31 March 2012, AML2 forms are no longer a valid means of reporting pig movements.  In October 2011, the new ‘eAML2’ electronic pig movement service was introduced in England and Wales to report pig movements electronically, supported by a Bureau service for those keepers who do not have access to the system.  Since 1 April 2012, it has been mandatory to report moves via ‘eAML2’, either online or via the Bureau Service.  For further information on eAML2, visit www.eaml2.org.uk, or contact the eAML2 helpline on 0844 335 8400.

With effect from November 2011, Scotland introduced the ‘ScotEID’ system which also allows electronic reporting of pig movements, supported by a Bureau Service. For further information visit www.scoteid.com or telephone the Scotland Bureau on 01466 794323.

The standing movement regime

In the aftermath of the 2001 outbreak of foot and mouth disease restrictions on the movements of livestock (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) were introduced. Whenever cattle, sheep, goats or pigs are moved onto a farm no cattle, sheep or goats may move off for a period of six days (13 days in Scotland). Pigs have to remain under standstill for six days where cattle, sheep and goats have been moved on to a holding. Where pigs have moved on to a farm, existing pigs must remain under standstill for 20 days. This is a disease damping measure designed to slow down the rate of spread of undetected disease and thus reduce the size (and hence the cost) of disease outbreaks.

In England & Wales the movement will need to be reported using the eAML2 electronic movement system, either by accessing the system online at www.eaml2.org.uk, or, for keepers without access to the system, by contacting the Bureau on 0844 335 8400 who will then set up the move onto eAML2 and provide you with a ‘Haulier Summary’ document to accompany the animals in transit.

In Scotland, movements will be via the ScotEID movement database which can be contacted either electronically via www.scoteid.com or via the telephone Bureau on 01466 794323.

Further information

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Pet pig walking licences

England, Wales and Scotland

Pet pigs can be exercised on the premises to which they are registered (the CPH), however walking pet pigs off these premises requires a licence from AHVLA.

Routes may not be approved due to proximity to a livestock market, high health status pig farms or fast food outlets, etc.

If it is approved, the licence will need to be renewed annually. Contact your local AHVLA Field Services for more information.

Pet and micro-pigs

Those keeping pigs as pets, including ‘micro’ pigs, must adhere to all rules governing the identification and movement of pigs. There are no exceptions for pet pigs. In particular, it should be noted that moves to veterinary care have to be recorded in the holding register. If a pet pig has been treated, and held in isolation at the surgery, where there are no other livestock on the holding other than pet pigs, the pig walking licence may be resumed as soon as the pig is healthy as this should not include movement to any location near livestock. Where there are other livestock on the premises, the pig must be isolated or a 20 day standstill applied to other pigs (six days standstill for other livestock).

For further information, please see Advice for owners of pet pigs and micro-pigs

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Page last modified: 11 November 2013