How to Remove a Pig Tattoo

Sorry, this blog isn’t about that time you and your friends went out and drank way too much and on a dare you all ended up getting a bunch of truly horrible tattoos that you really, really regretted the next morning, and now you’re desperate to get yours removed before your mom or your girlfriend sees it. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the wrong place.

No, this is actually about domesticated hogs and the various ways a pig farmer can easily identify individual animals within a drove for later processing—specifically, by tattooing a series of numbers and/or letters on the pig’s ear or shoulder or back. For the ear, you use a special ear tattoo plier; and for the back or shoulder, you use a hog shoulder-slapper.

Both tools use special metal needlepoint alphanumeric characters, called dies, that can be slipped in and out of the applicator as needed. Last but not least, you need livestock tattoo ink, which comes in green or black colors.

How to Tattoo a Pig

In a previous blog we’ve described in detail how to tattoo a pig, but here are the basic steps for marking the hog’s ear with tattoo ink:

  1. Set up the applicator with the desired sequence of dies.
  2. Hogs can be energetic, squirmy critters. Keep the animal restrained while it’s being tattooed, using a neck clamp or narrow passage.
  3. Clean the area of application with rubbing alcohol or surgical spirit.
  4. Pierce the skin of the ear with a firm, quick motion and remove the pliers.
  5. Rub a small amount of ink onto the tattoo area so that it fills the holes left by the dies. Any excess ink on the outer skin will disappear over time, leaving behind a readable mark.

By contrast, the video below demonstrates the procedure for “shoulder-slapping” the pig.

As you might glean from these illustrative examples above, tattooing a pig isn’t the quiet, careful, creative process one would associate with a tattoo parlor for humans. Rather, tattooing a pig can be a down-and-dirty, rough-and-tumble business. Sure, it can be done with finesse—but it isn’t exactly elegant. In fact, it can get quite messy.

And that is why you want the option to remove the tattoo from the pig. Or, to be more precise, you want to be able to remove any excess inky grime that gums up the works and interferes with the ultimate sharpness, clarity, and readability of the tattoo.

After all, as any pig farmer will tell you, tattoo clarity is the cornerstone of an effective livestock management system. These tattoos must often be read from a distance, so there’s no room for error.

So what is the problem? Well, over time, and with much use, the metal dies of a slapper or plier will become plugged up with dried ink, dirt, hair, straw, and general barn detritus. This will inevitably compromise the quality of the tattoo.

Tattoo Ink Remover to the Rescue

We have innovated again for our customers with our new Ketchum Ink Remover. Mind you, this product is not for washing your hands, nor will it remove old permanent tattoos from your livestock’s skin. Rather, this is a powerful formulation that restores the integrity of future livestock tattoos by loosening and removing “ground-in” debris from the slapper or plier dies.

Here’s how the Ketchum Tattoo Ink Remover works:

  1. Mix half of container with about 3 gallons (12 liters) of warm water.
  2. Let slapper and characters sit overnight in the mixture.
  3. Remove slappers and characters from the mixture.
  4. Gently rinse away the loosened ink and grime.

The result? Say goodbye to blurry, ambiguous livestock tattoos. Finally, here is a cost-effective and sensible way to manage your livestock ID program! And it is one that will pay for itself may times over.

Ketchum hog tattoo ink remover
Ketchum Tattoo Ink Remover

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