How to Make Sure You Slapmark Your Pigs Correctly, Clearly

UK - In the UK, all pigs going to slaughter must be slapmarked. However, it is becoming an increasing problem that pigs are arriving at abattoirs with illegal slapmarks due to them being illegible.
calendar icon 1 April 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

In order to get a clear and legible slapmark, the following steps, outlined by BPEX, should be followed.

Pre-use check

  • Ensure the slapmarker is clean
  • Ensure all of the pins are complete, straight and undamaged
  • Ensure the inkpad is in suitable condition to retain a reservoir of ink
  • Ensure the plate or characters are securely fixed in place


  • Clean or replace any damaged characters as necessary before use
  • Test the slapmark to ensure that the correct slapmark is being used and is clear
  • Set up the facilities to allow the flow of pigs to be managed, for example pigs passing in single file at a slow speed
  • Ensure the area is well lit and protected from prevailing rain (wet skin = unclear marks)
  • The floor area should be dry
  • Ensure enough space is available to effectively slap both shoulders of each pig

Outline of the work

  • Open the supply of tattooing ink or paste and fill the ink pad
  • Ink up the slapmarker
  • Slap each pig firmly and evenly, making contact squarely on both shoulders

Slapping harder does not necessarily mean improved clarity. 1⁄8 of an inch is all that is needed to penetrate the skin.

  • Apply the slap in the correct place i.e. both shoulder areas (see image)
  • Reapply ink to the slapmarker on a frequent basis using the inkpad, ie after every or every other pig
  • Refill the ink pad at regular intervals while in use
  • If any of the pins become bent during use stop immediately and replace the damaged character or slap plate before continuing
Apply slapmark to target area (blue area on photo)
(Photo: BPEX)

After use

  • Clean the slap marker thoroughly after use, for example, with a wire brush in soapy water or by pressure washing
  • Replace damaged slap plates immediately and replace worn ink pads
  • Store in a clean, dry and secure place
  • Replace the lid on the tattooing ink or paste and seal
  • Wrap the inkpad in a plastic bag to prevent it from drying out

You can buy your full Smallholder Pig Slapper Tattoo Kit and Commercial Pig Slapper Tattoo Kit at a great price in the 5m Farm Supplies shop.

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