Pig identification and registration: guidance for keepers

This guide explains the new rules for pig identification and registration.

Section 5: additional information

20-day standstill

When pigs arrive on your holding, your holding will be under a standstill whereby other livestock may not be moved off the holding for a specific period of time. The standstill rules are there to protect against the rapid spread of any disease outbreak - the standstill acts as an incubation period and slows down the spread of disease. Pigs trigger a 20-day standstill on other pigs when they move onto a holding. Pigs trigger a 13-day standstill on any cattle, sheep or goats on that holding. Cattle, sheep and goats moving onto a holding will impose a 13-day standstill on any pig on that holding.

There are movements which are exempt from the 20-day standstill, moves between authorised premises (i.e. pig pyramids) or where keepers have a separation agreement in place. For further information on exemptions (authorised premises) you should contact your local AHVLA Divisional Office (Annex B) and for information on the separation agreement or the standstill period contact your local RPID office (Annex A).

Feed advice

Following the outbreak of foot and mouth disease in 2001, the first case of which was found to be at a farm where unprocessed waste food was being fed to pigs, a review of the practice of swill feeding was carried out. The outbreak and subsequent review led to legislation banning the feeding of catering waste to any farmed animals or any other ruminant animal, pig or poultry. This is now reflected in EU-wide legislation.

It is illegal to feed any pig any catering waste (including used cooking oil) from restaurants, kitchens (both household and central), and other catering facilities even if those establishments cater solely for vegetarians.

Current legislation also imposes strict controls banning the feeding of other materials of animal origin or products containing them to farmed animals. There are however, a small number of exceptions to this, and the following materials may be fed to pigs:

  • liquid milk or colostrum may be fed to pigs kept on the same holding as that on which the milk or colostrum originated
  • former foodstuffs other than catering waste food from kitchens etc (see above) containing rennet, melted fat, milk or eggs but where these materials are not the main ingredient
  • fishmeal (animal derived), di- or tri-calcium phosphate, or blood products if suitably processed (see TSE Regulations internet link below)
  • milk, milk products and white water when suitably treated

Please note that anyone obtaining waste milk, milk products or white water to feed to their pigs would need to be registered for this purpose, although, in the case of milk products, this would only be necessary if they contained more than 80% milk. Details on how to register are available from your local AHVLA Divisional Office (Annex B).

It is permissible to source certain types of former foodstuffs (see above), as well as fruit and vegetables, from non-catering premises for feeding to pigs, but this must only be done from those premises that either do not handle materials banned from being fed to pigs, or that have (HACCP) procedures in place to ensure complete separation from prohibited materials, and these procedures have been agreed with the local authority.

If you are uncertain about what can and cannot be fed to your pigs please contact your local AHVLA Divisional Office (Annex B) for further advice. If in doubt don't feed it.

No matter how tempting it may be to feed catering waste food or other types of banned material to your pigs, this is illegal, and the above controls were introduced for a reason. Contaminated waste food can spread viruses and bacteria, and when infected with a disease like foot and mouth pigs can quickly infect other animals. Following these requirements will help keep your animals healthy and will reduce the risk of future outbreaks of disease.

Notifiable diseases

A notifiable disease is a disease named in section 88 of the Animal Health Act 1981 or an Order made under that Act.In practice, if you suspect signs of any of the notifiable diseases listed below, you must immediately notify your Divisional Veterinary Manager at your local AHVLA office (Annex B).

Notifiable diseases in pigs:

African Swine Fever (ASF)

ASF is similar to Classical Swine Fever (see below), but it is caused by a different virus. The ASF virus can be given to pigs by ticks and biting flies, as well as directly from infected pigs and pig meat. There are acute and chronic forms of ASF. In the acute disease, pigs firstly go off their food and are extremely dull with a high temperature (40-42 degrees C). They can then have diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing and a purple blotching of the skin. They might have a swaying gait, abort their litters and have a discharge from the eyes and nose.

Classical Swine Fever (CSF)

CSF also has acute and chronic forms and is spread to pigs by infected pigs, pig meat, or dirty vehicles, boots, etc. In the mild and chronic forms of the disease, the signs are less obvious - there may be a short-lived lack of appetite and fever and perhaps abortion. However, in the acute form, pigs are very dull and off their food with a high fever (40-41 degrees C). They may cough and initially show constipation then later, diarrhoea. There may be a discharge from the eyes and nose and the skin can be reddened and blotchy. Sows may abort or give birth to a weak litter. Some new born piglets have tremors.

Aujeszky's Disease

Aujeszky's Disease is also caused by a virus. Affected pigs have a variety of signs including sneezing, coughing, laboured breathing and fever. They may show nervous signs, too, such as trembling, circling and a swaying gait. Sows might abort or give birth to stillborn or mummified litters. Deaths are highest in younger pigs.

Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD)

The chief symptom in pigs is sudden lameness. Pigs prefer to lie down and when made to move squeal loudly and hobble painfully, though lameness may not be so obvious where the pigs are on deep bedding or soft ground. The blisters form on the upper edge of the hoof, where the skin and horn meet, and on the heels and in the cleft. They may extend right round the hoof head, with the result that the horn becomes detached.

At a later stage new horn starts to grow and the old hoof is carried down and finally shed. The process resembles the loss of a fingernail following some blow or other injury. Mouth symptoms are not usually visible, but blisters may develop on the snout or on the tongue and along the udder.

Swine Vesicular Disease (SVD)

The symptoms are clinically indistinguishable from foot-and-mouth disease but SVD only affects pigs. There is a fever of up to 41 degrees centigrade, then vesicles (blisters) develop on the coronary band, typically at the junction with the heel. The disease usually appears suddenly but does not spread with the same rapidity as foot-and-mouth disease. Mortality is low but in acute cases there can be some loss of production. Lameness develops due to the eruption of vesicles at the top of the hooves and between the toes. Vesicles may also develop on the snout, tongue and lips. The surface under the vesicles is red and this gradually changes colour as healing develops. The entire hoof may be shed. In less severe cases the healed lesion may grow down the hoof and this is seen by a black transverse mark. Recovery is usually complete within two to three weeks.

Teschen Disease (Porcine enterovirus encephalomyelitis)

Initially, infected pigs have a fever, loss of appetite, are dull and slightly uncoordinated. As the disease progresses there is irritability, stiffness, muscular tremors or rigidity, and convulsions. There may also be grinding of the teeth, smacking of the lips and squealing as if in pain. The voice may change or be lost entirely.

The course of the disease is usually acute and death, generally preceded by paralysis, normally occurs within three to four days of the appearance of symptoms. Mildly affected animals may recover. All age groups of pigs are susceptible to this disease.

Vesicular Stomatitis - this is a very rare disease of pigs which has never occurred in this country, but can also affect cattle, horses and people.

This disease, like SVD and FMD, causes blisters, but a different virus is involved. Areas of skin become blanched, followed by the formation of vesicles on the snout of pigs, on the lips, tongue, hard and soft palate and the coronary band. Lesions may also occur in other areas of the skin, especially where there is abrasion of tissue. The vesicles yield a serous fluid as they burst, usually 6 to 24 hours after formation. The hoof may become detached if vesicles have gathered there. Mortality rates are moderate to low.


This disease occurs rarely in pigs and can affect humans and other animals. It is caused by a bacteria and infected pigs can have fluid-filled swellings around the neck or have a bloody diarrhoea. Spores of the bacteria can live for some time in slurry and contaminated housing.

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