Breeding pigs must have PigTrace ear tags, while animals sent through a Canadian assembly yard must have either a PigTrace tag or a slap tattoo on the shoulder. (Image: PigTrace Canada)

OTTAWA, Ontario – Canadian pork producers who ship live animals to the United States must comply with new requirements for identifying pigs imported from Canada, the Canadian Pork Council reported. Anyone who ships or receives pigs in Canada must report the animals' movements within seven days using the PigTrace database.

PigTrace Canada is a live animal traceability initiative used to ensure quick identification of swine operations that may be affected by a food safety issue or animal disease outbreak. In October, Canadian Agri-Traceability Services (CATS) received a government grant of C$7.5 million to adapt its technology for Canada's swine industry.

“Animal health and foreign animal disease preparedness are key priorities for industry" Jean?Guy Vincent, CPC chair, said at the time. “The traceability information collected will be used to contain and reduce the spread of foreign diseases so they can be eliminated and this announcement takes the livestock industry one step closer to making traceability a feasible and valuable tool for Canadian producers in every way possible."

As of Nov. 1, the US Department of Agriculture stopped accepting former methods of swine identification — ear tattoos with old Canadian Food Inspection Agency site identification numbers and metal Health of Animals tags. Now, producers can ear tattoo with their herd mark, but breeding pigs must have PigTrace ear tags. Animals sent direct from the farm don't need any form of identification, but if the animal goes through a Canadian assembly yard first, it must have either a PigTrace tag or a slap tattoo on the shoulder, according to CPC.

Additionally, starting Jan. 1, 2015, some US pork processors want the traceability ear tags on cull sows.

"There's a number of US plants that have wanted PigTrace ear tags for quite a few years actually and they've been working to move that along in the US as well with the USDA tags, so they've sent letters to a number of the Canadian marketers saying they want PigTrace ear tags on all cull sows they buy otherwise there will be deductions," Jeff Clark, manager of the PigTrace initiative, said in service announcement to the Canadian swine industry. "But with our tags if there's a big demand for tags it takes three to four weeks to receive them, so I encourage people, if they're interested, to get their tag orders in."