Starting with pigs
Have you thought it through?
Taking on any kind of livestock is a big commitment, whether you are embarking on a long-term relationship with your animals or merely raising them for a few months for meat.
Please think extremely carefully before taking on pigs – both for your pigs’ sake and your own. Be absolutely sure that you have the necessary space, time, and knowledge to be able to rear healthy, happy pigs in a safe environment. If you don’t, don’t do it.
There are strict rules and regulations surrounding the raising of livestock and the movement of animals between farms, smallholdings, markets, and abattoirs. You first need to register your land as an agricultural holding and inform the appropriate authorities of the livestock you intend keeping.
Procedures are pretty much the same in England, Scotland, and Wales, but vary slightly in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. In England, Scotland, and Wales, you need a County Parish Holding (CPH) number, which identifies your land as a holding and allows you to legally keep four-legged livestock. The number will look something like this: 58/421/0086. The first two digits are the county, the next three the parish in which you live, and the final four the actual number of your holding. You will use this number whenever you buy or sell livestock, move animals on or off your premises, when ordering identification tags, and in various official documents. Ireland does not use CPH numbers, but you will need a pig herd number. In Northern Ireland this is obtained fro the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, and the Republic of Ireland, it is the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Getting registered isn’t difficult, and it doesn’t cost anything. In England, you will need to contact the Rural Payments Agency; in Wales, it’s your divisional office of the Welsh Assembly Government; and in Scotland it’s the Rural Payments and Inspections Department.
Once you have this number, you will need to notify your local Animal Health Divisional Office that you have pigs, and you will be sent a herd number to use if you move the pigs to another location or to slaughter. This number will need to be imprinted on ear tags (or slap-marks) on pigs leaving your holding. When you buy in pigs under 12 months’ old, they do not need to be tagged before leaving the vendor’s premises – they can move with a temporary identifying mark (e.g. with stock marker spray). Unlike sheep, they will not need to be tagged unless they leave your land.
Please use the forum to ask any questions about keeping pigs. Fellow members will be happy to help you.
Liz Shankland is the author of the Haynes Pig Manual and The Practical Guide to Buying and Running a Smallholding in Wales. Contact her on 07846 449023 or email firstname.lastname@example.org