The Legalities of Keeping Pigs in the UK

A pig with something on its face

A pig with something on its face

Keeping pigs a joy everyone should experience, but before going out and buying a couple of weaners there are a few legal issues that need to be dealt with first. If you read my post on the legal requirements for keeping goats, you’ll already know most of the ones pertaining to pigs, but here they are anyway:

  1. Get a holding number. Known as a CPH number (which stands for country, parish, holding), this is required for all places where farm animals are kept, whether you have 50 chickens or 50,000 sheep (or anything in between). The process for obtaining a CPH number is very simple. Call up the Rural Payments Agency (RPA) on 0845 603 7777. They’ll take your name and address and want to know what animals you intend keeping, then send you through a form that includes your new CPH number. They don’t charge for this service.
  2. Get a herd number. This is the code that will be used for all movements and tagging It also registers you with DEFRA as a pig keeper. To do this, you need to call up your regional Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA) branch. A list can be found here. Again, it’s very straightforward and, once done, you’ll not only get a herd number but a stack of AML1 movement forms and a herd register. If you’re keeping over 2,000 pigs, you’ll need to let the Environmental Agency know… but that’s unlikely for a microholding.
  3. Livestock Insurance. This is a must! Pigs are notorious escape artists and can cause a lot of damage in a very short space of time, especially if they get out onto the road. My own home and contents insurance is provided by the NFU. They’re the guys who insure most of the farms across the UK, so they know what they’re doing. The public liability cover is something like £2 million, which would be a challenge to exceed even for two escapee pigs!
  4. Pre-Notify Movement. Pig movements are taken more seriously than most other animals, mostly due to the amount of intensive pig farming around at the moment and the need to keep other pigs well away from them. Thankfully this pre-notification is the onus of the person selling you the pigs, you don’t need to pre-notify until you intend taking them to the abattoir. However, you will need to let BPEX know that the pigs arrived on your holding. You can do this (within 3 days) via the BPEX site. This is basically an electronic movement form (EAML2 if you’re interested) and you’ll need to register with BPEX.
  5. Holding Register. Once the pigs are safely installed in their new home, make sure to note the arrival in your holding register, which DEFRA recommends looks something like this: Pig Records
  6. ID Tags. Weaners don’t usually get tagged, so you’ll need to buy some. There are loads of places you can buy them online, but they’re all pretty similar – metal jaws that clamp onto the flesh of the ear. You’ll need to get an applicator as well. Pigs love to scratch against things and have a tendency to rip out eartags, so it’s worth leaving it til the last week or so before you tag them. That’s an entertaining experience right there!

Glad I checked all this, as I’m getting a couple of pigs next month and I hadn’t realised that the movement forms are all done online now.

Helpful Websites:




2 comments on “The Legalities of Keeping Pigs in the UK
  1. Karen says:

    Ear clamping sounds most barbaric, it must hurt the pigs and since you will only have two couldn’t you mark them with a permanent ink pen instead.
    I will be closely following the welfare of Pinky and Perky 🙂

    • Phin Hall says:

      Metal Tags!
      The ear tags may seem a bit vicious, but the pigs really don’t seem to mind – a little shake of the head is the only reaction.

      You’ll have to come round when the pigs get tagged!