A premises identification number (PIN) tag pilot program may make it possible to better target surveillance for pseudorabies and swine brucellosis in harvest channels, using the management tags used in management for sows or boars.

The Pork Checkoff, the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, the National Pork Producers Council, USDA’s Veterinary Services and producers and state veterinarians in Iowa, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota, cooperated on the pilot program, which focused on the official PIN tag approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2008.

The pork industry has urged adoption of the tags to improve pre-harvest traceability and to benefit national swine disease surveillance programming.

“With early adoption of the tags by various production systems, a pilot program could be conducted to test their application for disease surveillance,” says Jim Niewold a producer from Loda IL, and member of the Checkoff’s Swine Health Committee and Swine ID Implementation Task Force.

Targeted surveillance helps save money
After the pilot was approved, USDA’s National Surveillance Unit (NSU) became a secure hub for information sharing. States provided the counties associated with swine premises, and USDA Wildlife Services provided a list of counties with feral swine. Using PINs from official tags collected at harvest, the NSU then cross-referenced the lists to determine the presence of feral swine.

“Feral swine represent a high risk for disease reintroduction, so samples from sows in counties with these animals are more valuable to test,” says Patrick Webb, DVM, director of swine health programs for the Pork Checkoff.

He notes that early detection and proving freedom from these diseases in the commercial herd has always been a priority. “But previously, disease surveillance in harvest channels focused only on broad coverage of sows and boars,” Webb says. “This has led to oversampling. The tags allow for USDA to target surveillance to save money that can be better spent on other industry priorities.”

Program offers multiple benefits
The pilot program showed that with cooperation between various USDA program areas and states, targeted, risk-based surveillance for pseudorabies and swine brucellosis can be achieved in harvest channels.

“We’ve worked hard to eradicate these diseases from the commercial herd, but their presence in feral swine still presents a risk,” says Wathina Luthi, a pork producer from Gage, Ok, and member of the National Pork Board. “Moving forward with the implementation of these tags provides an opportunity to target surveillance, better detect diseases earlier and protect our markets.”