We had an interesting conversation on our floor the other night. I had just gotten my swine exam back from my ASI 105 class (which I got a 100% on!) and I was showing this girl this funny picture that they used for a pig(they had taken Porky the Pig and put really big ears on him). And she asked why I had drawn triangles in the ears, and I told her that we had to know how to read ear notching and so that's how we got tested on it. She then asked me how you ear notch and what exactly that meant. And I explained to her that ear notching was like putting in an ear tag. They take a little punch and notch out part of the pigs ear. She got this horrified look on her face and was telling me how that was just abuse and mean to hurt the pig like that and why would you need to do that! And I explained that it is so you can identify the pigs and that it is similar to putting an ear tag in cattle (which she also thought was mean) except that you can't put an ear tag in pigs because they are very curious creatures and will chew it up. She was not impressed and was talking about how that was abuse and you shouldn't hurt the animal like that. And we tried explaining that it was like a person getting their ears pierced. And she goes, but I wanted my ears pierced, they didn't have a choice! And then we said, but what about babies that have their ears pierced, the mom just did that without asking them!
It was a long and interesting conversation to say the least! We were trying to explain to her that this is a needed thing for livestock management because you have to be able to identify the animal. But she is not from a farm and didn't quite understand where we were coming from! But it was a good conversation! :)
If you've never seen ear notching in pigs or never learned to read it, it is actually kind of tricky and confusing at first. We had to learn how to read it for ASI 105, my Animal Science Lab. Once you have it down, and if you can add quickly in your head, it is a very efficient way of identification. The pig's right ear is it's litter number(so you can tell if any pigs were litter mates) and the pigs left ear is it's identification number! So, for example, this pig's number would be 19-8(litter number 19, pig number 8)! If you are totally confused on how the numbers are figured out, take a look at this chart below, it is actually kinda cool! :)