In a pig’s ear
Some may have noticed notches in the ears of the piglets featured in a recent post. These are a means of identification codified and required by many breed registries here in the U.S. and abroad. Litter identifiers are notched into the animal’s right ear while individual identifiers are notched into the left ear. There are four notch locations on each ear [Actually, there is a fifth spot for 81s above that for 3s – read on – but we’ll ignore it for the sake of simplicity.] we’ll call them outside edge (away from the head) low, outside edge high, inside edge (toward the head) low and inside edge high. Two notches may be placed in each of these positions. The diagram indicates the outside edge low is for 1s, the outside edge high is for 3s, the inside edge low is for 27s, and the inside edge high is for 9s.
If you look at the piglet on the right in this previous post, although it is a bit difficult to see, I believe that is Litter 3, Individual 7. The notching is done shortly after farrowing using a pair of notchers. There’s something about the circulation through the rim of the ear such that bleeding is minimal and the little ones don’t skip a beat. Although ear notching may seem like a bother it is, in our experience, a much better way of hog identification than the application of plastic ear tags. Notching is permanent and readable at some distance, while ear tags often result in infection, get played with and removed by other animals, and can become obscured with dirt so as to be unreadable.