By Colt W. Knight, Ph.D., Assistant Extension Professor/Livestock Specialist, University of Maine; Elaina Enzien, Dairy, Livestock & Forage Crops Field Specialist, University of New Hampshire; Carolyn Hurwitz, DVM, Assistant State Veterinarian, Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, Division of Animal and Plant Health; and Elizabeth A. Hines, Ph.D., Extension Swine Specialist, Penn State Extension
Perhaps you are looking to source a piglet for your child’s 4-H project, or you want some feeder pigs to raise for fall. Or maybe you are uncertain about the food chain during the COVID-19 outbreak and want to raise your own food.
Normally, April and May are a prime buying time to source piglets locally, but this year, piglet supply seems to be falling short. There are a couple of reasons why.
First, livestock dealers have been wary to invest in large shipments of piglets from southern states due to COVID-19. This has left a large void in the supply of piglets normally bought by folks who raise a handful of feeder pigs a year and kids wanting show animals.
Second, swine producers who sell pork locally depend on the local supply chain to meet their order demand. Demand for locally sourced meat has increased dramatically with recent runs on grocery stores and panic buying. In fact, most inspected meat processing facilities are still running at full capacity, but they are falling short of meeting demand. Local breeders are hesitant to sell their litters because they need these animals to meet their commitments. Local breeders may even be looking to source more stock themselves to meet consumer demand.
With the local supply of piglets low, many producers are looking to source piglets from out of state, but shipping costs may be high. Large pork-producing states are hurting now. Large packing plants are closing weekly due to COVID-19. Supply in these states is backing up, and large producers are facing the tough prospect of euthanizing their herds. Producers in these hard-hit areas are looking for a place to send pigs.
What you need to know about buying piglets from out of state
State and federal regulations outline requirements for moving livestock from state to state. If you go to the Interstate Animal Movement Requirements site you can input your starting point, destination, and animal species for a quick check of requirements for different kinds of livestock. However, keep in mind that state import requirements may change before this website is updated, so it is important to make sure that you are referencing the most current information. You may always contact the animal health official in the destination [JD5] state to inquire about these regulations.
Below we discuss requirements for transporting piglets into Maine and New Hampshire. These requirements will give you a sample of possible requirements, but you must use your state’s specific requirements.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (DACF) is the regulatory agency that monitors the importation of livestock and poultry into Maine. Prior to importing piglets to Maine, you will need to contact DACF at 207.287.3701 to obtain a free import permit. This permit number will be recorded on the certificate of veterinary inspection that accompanies the animals. The Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI), otherwise known as a health certificate, will be written and signed by a USDA accredited veterinarian where the piglets currently reside. Each pig also needs an official identification device. These official identification numbers need to be listed on the CVI. Pigs are most commonly identified by an ear tag or breed registered ear notches. Finally, you will need to include Health Statements on the CVI to attest that no piglets in the shipment were garbage fed(slop) and that all imported piglets originate from an area that is free from Brucellosis, Pseudorabies and Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv). Piglets that are imported under these conditions and slaughtered by 6 months of age do not require any testing for swine brucellosis (SB) or pseudorabies virus (PRV).
Where do I get a Health Certificate? You (or the seller) can hire a Category II USDA Accredited private practice veterinarian where the pig(s) you wish to import is located. This veterinarian will examine the pigs and confirm that they meet the import requirements of Maine. This certificate will be good for 30 days. You will need to know the seller’s(consignor) and the buyer’s(consignee) name and address. If the destination address of the pigs is different from the buyer’s address, you will need this information as well. Animal Tags –Official ID is generally an ear tag such as a metal NUES (brite) tag, plastic AIN tags (840 tag), or an approved RFID tag (Radio Frequency). Metal tags are available through DACF and local veterinarians. Plastic 840 tags are sold by approved suppliers and require a Premises Identification Number(PIN) available through DACF. Call 207.287.3701 for more information.
Any imported pigs between 6-12 months of age must test negative for SB and PRV within 30 days before coming to Maine. Animals 1 year of age and older do not require testing for SB or PRV if they lived their entire lives in a region free from these diseases. The veterinarian writing the CVI for these animals will confirm this information and document that on the movement paperwork. These testing requirements are also available on interstatelivestock.com
If you intend to buy pigs for resale, whether they originate from Maine or an out of state shipment, you will need a Livestock Dealer’s license. Livestock dealers must maintain “records of all transactions… to the extent that the Commissioner may trace any animal to the seller.” This license is associated with annual renewal and small licensing fee- application requests can be made to DACF by calling the same number for import permits.
The New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Food (NHDAMF), Division of Animal Industry, regulates the entry of animals and poultry into New Hampshire from out of state. If you are shipping livestock into New Hampshire, not for slaughter, each animal needs its own official identification tag. An accredited veterinarian in the state of origin needs to write a certificate of veterinary inspection (CVI) that includes the identification numbers of the transferred animals. Once the CVI is written, the veterinarian, the shipper, or the recipient needs to call the office of the Division of Animal Industry at 603.271.2404 for a permit number prior to shipping the animals into New Hampshire.
The CVI must certify that all swine are individually identified by permanent official identification, all swine on the premises have been inspected, the swine have never been fed raw garbage or exposed to swine that have been fed raw garbage, and the swine are free from clinically diagnosed contagious and infectious diseases, including but not limited to brucellosis and pseudorabies. Feeder swine less than 120 days old imported for the exclusive purpose of feeding for slaughter must be individually identified by permanent official identification. Feeder swine must also originate from a pseudorabies-free state or herd, or they must test free of pseudorabies.
People involved in the transfer of domestic animals into NH are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with Agr 2100 regulations, which provides the full rules for importation.
If you intend to import and resell animals, you need a livestock dealer’s license. Those wishing to obtain a license need to fill out and submit an application to the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture Markets & Food, Division of Animal Industry. The rules (Agr 1900) for becoming a livestock dealer can be found online. The application must be submitted to NHDAMF, Division of Animal Industry.
For more information about swine production in New England, check out the following: