What’s in a name?

02 Apr 2009, by largebla in post
A herd of Large Black swine.
Image via Wikipedia

You have finally purchased your first pair of Large Black Hogs (LBH) and now you have registration papers in hand. Just what do all those names on the pedigree mean? What you see is the result of “blood lines” and the naming system of the LBH. The naming system alone can be very confusing, not to mention the ear notching. Let me try to explain.

Let’s assume you have a sow named “Wolfe’s Matilda 20/5″, as shown on your registration paper. The first word tells you this sow was bred on the Wolfe farm. The second name tells you she is from the Matilda blood line. The 20 tells you she was from the 20th litter on the Wolfe farm and the number 5 means she was the fifth pig in that litter. If this sow is ear notched, you should be able to look at her right ear and read the number 20 for the litter number and the left ear should read the number 5 for the particular pig in that litter.

Your papers will also include information about her pedigree, meaning her parents and grandparents for several generations will be shown. You will also notice that “Matilda” is the name of her mother and several grandmothers. How can that be? Is she her own grandma? No, she has that name because all Large Blacks are named for their particular blood line and she is from the Matilda blood line.

To show blood line, all females are named after their mother and all males are named after their father. That means when you breed Wolfe’s Matilda 20/5 and register her pigs, her daughter may be named “Jones Matilda 1/6″ assuming your farm name is Jones and this is your first litter of registered Large Blacks on your farm, and this is the sixth pig in the litter. If you bred your Matilda to a Majestic boar, the males would be named “Jones Majestic 1/7″ if that was the 7th pig in that litter.

Even more important than the name though is the registration number. You could and will see the same names used over and over again but no two registration numbers are the same. The pedigree will show the registration number of the parents and grandparents so you can track the relation in the breeding by looking at the registration numbers, regardless of what the names say.

In order to match the pig with the papers, you need some form of identification. People have used ear tags, tattoos, and ear notches. We have found it is a rare tag that lasts more than a year and tattoos inside the ear are hard to read. They also require you to make contact with the pig to analyze. We have found the only sure way to mark a pig for life is to ear notch, and an ear notch can be seen with out having to touch the pig.

Ear notching can be intimidating if you have never seen it done but when done correctly; it is actually very simple and quick. It is best done with a tool that is designed specifically for this purpose called an ear notcher. You can purchase it on line at or any number of supply companies. I am not endorsing their product, just giving you a place to start. We actually bought ours at the local feed store for under $12 dollars.

Click here for more information about How to Notch Pigs

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