Most show pigs are individually identified using a universal system known as ear notching. Learning to read ear notches is a valuable tool, not only for identifying animals but because reading ear notches is a very common showmanship question.
Ear notches may look complicated but if you can add, reading ear notches is simple. Once you know what each ear represents, and understand the five different areas of the ear that can be notched you’ll be able to identity the litter and individual notches of a pig. Keep these five things in mind when reading ear notches:
- Know which ear is which.
The right ear represents the litter number, think of it as the pigs last name. Whereas the left ear represents the individual number like the pigs first name.
An easy way to remember which ear is which, when looking at the pig, the ear to your left is the litter ear. Left = Litter.
- Divide into quadrants.
A pig can be notched in four different quadrants. Imagine a line down the center of the ear, from the top straight down to the bottom. Now imagine a second line from midway through the ear straight across. There may also be a notch at the very tip of the ear.
- Know what the quadrants are worth.
Starting at the bottom quadrant nearest the pig’s head first, multiply each quadrant by three as you work your way around to the top. The first quadrant is worth 1, second quadrant is worth 3, third quadrant is worth 9, and the last quadrant at the top of the ear is worth 27. But remember if the tip of the ear is notched, it is worth 81.
- Add the notches together.
Once you know what each notch is worth, add them together.
- State the litter number followed by the individual number.
Now that you know the value of the notches you have, you can read them! State the litter number followed by dash the individual number. Such as 24-4.
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