Common sense prevails on swine farms

US - The Bjorklund teenagers won’t pick out the hogs to show at the fair for a few weeks yet, but visitors to the Nicollet County Fair can probably bet on seeing “Arnold“ next month.
calendar icon 25 July 2007
clock icon 3 minute read
Ear tags and notchings are two low-tech forms of hog identification.

Named for the muscle-bound Governator, Arnold is a nice-looking pig, as far as pigs go.

He’s got a big ham muscle in his rear and long loin sections along his spine. He’s got straight legs and prances on his front hooves instead of trudging along flat-footed on his back ones. Those are just a few of the 15 or so qualities that judges — and commercial breeders — look for.

And like the other 44 hogs the teenagers are choosing from to bring to the county fair, Arnold has a green tag in his ear with a four-digit ID number.

He also has notches in his ear that look haphazard but are actually part of a backup ID system used if hogs rub the tags off.

There are five “zones” on a pig ear with increasing point values — 1, 3, 9, 27 and 81 for the tip. In other words, a pig with two notches in the first zone and two in the second zone would be an eight (1+1+3+3).

That low-tech ID system offers 81 possible combinations of cuts.

That system also thwarts less scrupulous families than the Bjorklunds, who may switch the tags during a county fair competition.

“It keeps people honest,” said Dale Bjorklund, father of Marshall, 15, and Joe, 18. Lincoln, 16, is their cousin, and lives close by on his dad Wayne Bjorklund’s hog farm.

Source: Mankato Free Press
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