Comparison of visual and electronic identification devices in pigs: On-farm performances

D. Babot, M. Hernández-Jover, G. Caja, C. Santamarina, J. J. Ghirardi

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A total of 1,822 pigs from 2 farms (farm A, n = 1,032; farm B, n = 790) were used to evaluate pig traceability under on-farm conditions by using identification devices (n = 4,434) of different technologies. The devices were visual ear tags (n = 1,533; Model 1, n = 776; Model 2, n = 757), electronic ear tags (n = 1,446; half-duplex, n = 702; full-duplex, n = 744), and intraperitoneally injected transponders (n = 1,455; half-duplex, n = 732; full-duplex, n = 723). A group of 790 pigs wore 3 types of devices, and 1,032 wore 2 devices. Piglets were identified before (wk 1 to 3 of age; farm A) or after (wk 3 to 4 of age; farm B) weaning and intensively fattened until approximately 100 kg of BW. Readability of devices was checked at each farm operation by using standardized handheld transceivers. No negative effects of the identification devices on animal health (mortality rate, 8.4%) or performance were detected. On-farm losses averaged 1.6% for ear tags (visual, 0.8%; half-duplex, 1.9%; full-duplex, 2.7%; P > 0.05) and 1.8% for intraperitoneally injected transponders (half-duplex, 1.7%; full-duplex, 1.9%; P > 0.05). Moreover, 1.4% electronic failures occurred in the electronic ear tags (half-duplex, 2.2%; full-duplex, 0.6%; P < 0.05) but not in the intraperitoneally injected transponders. Final on-farm readability was greater (P < 0.05) for visual ear tags (99.2%) than for electronic ear tags (half-duplex, 95.9%; full-duplex, 96.7%; P > 0.05). Readability for intraperitoneally injected transponders was intermediate (half-duplex, 98.3%; full-duplex, 98.1%; P > 0.05). Electronic devices were in all cases easier and faster to read than the visual ear tags. Visual ear tags and intraperitoneally injected transponders were efficiently retained under conditions of commercial pig farms, which agrees with the minimum values recommended by the International Committee for Animal Recording (>98%). When readability and reading ease were also included as decision criteria, injectable transponders were preferred. ©2006 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2575-2581
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2006


  • Ear tag
  • Electronic identification
  • Injectable transponder
  • Pig
  • Traceability


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