Why Do Pigs Have Nose Rings?

Many people have no idea why pigs have nose rings. You may be surprised to find out that it’s not for looks. There is actually a real purpose for them.

It keeps them from rooting

Now this is a practice that I personally do not believe is right. Yes, while it may be true that it keeps them from rooting and helps keep them in their pen, it just seems unusually cruel to me. It can be a real pain trying to keep them contained sometimes but there is a simple solution to that, build a better fence. Here on the ranch we typically just pour a concrete footer around the perimeter of the pig pen then set the legs of the panels in the concrete. That way when it sets the panels are held firmly in place and there is a concrete wall underneath that the pigs cannot dig out of. They are still allowed to do their natural thing, which is to root, but it’s much harder for them to escape their pens. Some people also use them when their pigs are kept on a hard surface such as concrete. Even on concrete pigs will try and root and they can seriously injure themselves because of it.

Why are they called hog rings?

This question tends to come up fairly often when I’m explaining to people what hog rings are used for. Hog rings are U-shaped metal rings that are bent in a circle that are applied to the snout of a hog. This ring is applied to a hogs snout in order to keep them from rooting. The ring is pressed through the skin of the snout with a tool known as “hog ring pliers”. This holds it in place so it is unable to move. Think of it like an ear piercing except in a hogs nose. No sedatives are used when rings are applied to a hog so I can only imagine that it hurts.

How Are Hog Rings Measured?

Typically there are 3 sizes of hog rings ranging from #1 to #3. Each size has a specific use:

  • #1 Pig Rings are used for animals up to 25 lbs.
  • #2 Shoat Rings are used for animals up to 100 lbs.
  • #3 Hog rings are for animals over 100 lbs.

Are There Different Types of Hog Rings?

Yes there are actually, Typically there are two types: Hog Rings and Shoat Rings. Hog rings are used for adult hogs so they are larger and thicker than shoat rings. Shoat rings are used for young pigs so they are made smaller and thinner. Within the last couple years a new style has been released that is supposed to be more humane to the animal. Those type of rings are called humane hog rings. Most hog rings stainless steel with a large number being copper-plated.

Humane Hog Rings

Humane Hog rings are a fairly recent development. They are developed so that when they are applied to the animal is causes less stress and pain. The shape is different as well. Instead of just being round they have a dip in the metal to fit around the hogs nose better without pulling on the ends. In my mind you are still shoving a piece of metal through a pigs nose so I’m not sure just how much more humane they are.

How to Remove Hog Rings

There is a tool called a “hog ring cutter” that is used to cut through the hog ring so it can be removed in two separate pieces. This causes much less pain for the animal since removing the ring won’t cause it to twist and turn inside the snout.

What are Hog Rings Used For?

Hog rings are used in the Pig industry to keep the pigs from doing what they naturally do and that’s rooting. Pigs love to root and will dig up a pasture or a pen pretty quickly. They will also dig under a fence and escape their pen at times as well. The use of pig rings prevents this activity by applying pressure to their snout when they root. This is uncomfortable for them and discourages them from continuing. Some farms keep their pigs on concrete slabs to make cleaning much easier. Pigs will still try and root through the concrete and can seriously injure themselves when doing so. A hog ring will discourage this practice and ultimately keep the pigs safer.

Hog Ring Uses

There are a ton of uses for hog rings ranging from fixing chain linked fence to reinforcing wire mesh on chicken coops to even fixing upholstery. Pig rings are definitely something that are useful to have around in a pinch and can work wonders for fixing your truck seats. They are very popular for upholstery because they have a much less chance to tear free like staples or nails. Some designs are more suitable for meat packing use such as closing the ends of sausage casings. The ends of the rings are placed through the material being fastened together and then bent into a round shape. This creates a very secure hold on the two fabrics.


Because hog rings are bent into a round object they provide a very secure hold that isn’t likely to work its way loose. Unlike other popular items such as nails or staples, hog rings are bent into shape so that they maintain and iron-like grip on the objects. You can view hog rings as large staples.

So at the end of the day hog rings by themselves aren’t a bad thing. They have plenty of great uses for everyday life and you don’t have to live on a farm or ranch to make good use of them. So now if your trying to decide if you want to raise hogs or if you just brought home your first one we hope this answered you question.

What are your thoughts about hog rings? Do you use them for hogs or other uses? Let me know in the comments below.

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